General News of Thursday, 1 November 2018
It is emerging that some former Ministers may not have conducted themselves in the best interest of Ghana in relation to the procurement of some ambulances for the country.
The businessman contracted to supply the country with some 200 ambulances has pointed fingers at former Finance Minister Seth Terkper and former Health Minister Sherry Ayitey.
Richard Dzakpa told Daniel Dadzie on the Super Morning Show on Thursday that the government under former President John Evans Atta Mills had finalised terms of the agreement for his company, Big Sea, to supply the ambulances.
According to Mr. Dzakpa, they even took an extra step to get Stanbic Bank to grant Ghana loan of €15.8 million to execute the contract.
However, things took a different turn when Atta Mills died in office and his vice, John Mahama, took the steering wheel.
The Finance Minister, who superintended the agreement between Big Sea and Ghana, was changed after John Mahama won the 2016 elections and his deputy Mr. Terkper took over.
Similarly, in the Health Ministry, Alban Bagbin was whisked away and Sherry Ayitey took his stead.
Mr. Dzakpa did not think this would be a problem since he was dealing with institutions and not individuals.
He was wrong.
According to the businessman, he wrote to the now Sherry Ayitey-led Health Ministry in 2013 for technical men to be sent to their production base in Dubai for the 20 ambulances they had manufactured to be inspected before they continued production.
However, Sherry Ayitey replied to them that she is new in the Ministry and isn’t aware of any such deal. “Stop production” was the order, according to Mr Dzakpa.
He is, however, a businessman and according to him “a patriotic Ghanaian” so he was not going to let the Minister do anything that would make Ghana incur judgement debt so he went to explain matters to the Minister.
According to him, the minister did not take his advice in good faith. “You don’t walk up here and come and be talking to me about laws and procedures…and she got up and left the office” Mr Dzakpa recalls Ms Ayitey said.
The Minister also felt since the Finance Minister hadn’t signed the Letter of Credit (LC) she wasn’t obligated to execute the terms, according to Mr Dzakpa.
Since the terms were already finalised all that was needed was for Mr Terkper to sign and Mr. Dzakpa did not think this would be a problem since he [Terkper] was Deputy Finance Minister at the time and had handled much of the process.
However, Mr. Dzakpa said that when he confronted Terkper on why the deal has not been signed, he got the same reaction Sherry Ayitey gave. “He just grumbled and got up and left the office,” he said.
Mr. Dzakpa would not explicitly state that there was conspiracy between the two Ministers and his competitors who did not get the bid to sabotage the contract, but he believes that “there are things that happen behind the scenes. There were manoeuvres and schemes going on by Terkper, Sherry and other competitors who wanted to sabotage this project so that they could have it,” he stated.
All the while, Big Sea’s creditors were on its neck for their money so Mr. Dzakpa wrote to the Attorney General’s department to notify them of the sour proceedings and intent of legal action.
The AG’s department, upon perusal of the facts, advised the Health Ministry to cooperate with Mr Dzakpa since the state has no legs to stand on, according to Mr Dzakpa.
But when the state was finally ready to budge, Stanbic Bank was fed up of waiting and that €15.8 million was no longer available.
Deputy Finance Minister at the time, Cassiel Ato Forson, then wrote to the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for some money to pay for the ambulances that had been produced.
However, Ghana has not taken delivery of the ambulances. There has been a change of government and Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu described the ambulances as unfit for purpose.
Meanwhile, 29 million are still relying on 30 ambulances to serve them.
More on the Big Sea Contract tomorrow.