The Attorney General, Godfred Dame, has said that parts of the clauses in the Sputnik Vaccines contract unfairly implicate the government.
Godfred Dame noted that the contract was “ambiguous, vague and skewed against the buyer (government), suggesting that the agreement be amended, a report by JoyNews revealed.
The government has been under pressure following the confusion surrounding the procurement of $64million Russian Sputnik V vaccines a few months ago.
According to reports, the Health Ministry purchased some 300, 000 units of the vaccines from one Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the UAE’s family, at a cost of US$19 each.
Critics, however, questioned why the Ministry did not purchase directly from Russia at a cost of $10 which would have saved the country an amount of $9 extra dollars.
In response, a statement signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, explained that “the US$10 price per dose which is being proposed as the correct price is the ex-factory price which is only obtained from government to government arrangement but Ghana was unable to obtain direct supplies from the Russian Government hence the resort to the market”.
Prior to Ghana receiving the vaccines, Kwabena Boadu Oku–Afari, had in a letter dated March 10, 2021, appealed to the Attorney General’s office to review the contract between the ministry and the private office of Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum for the supply of 3.4 million doses of the vaccines,
Meanwhile, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu had in a letter dated April 12, 2021, indicated the need to make the purchase directly from the source, Russia, since other countries did the same.
The Attorney General in response noted that the contract, despite already being signed prior to the submission for review, had not gone through Parliament for approval to ensure its validity. He added that the clauses could be trouble for Ghana if not handled carefully.
Below were some of the clauses the Attorney General found to be triggering and could leave Ghana at the mercy of the sellers:
Godfred Dame observed among other things that clause 7.1 of the contract which states “the liability of the seller of any action which is outside its reasonable control is excluded” was against guidelines of the country’s Food and Drug Authority.
In the reply sent to the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Attorney General indicated, “we note per the FDA pharmacovigilance regulations, a manufacturer, seller, or distributor must recall vaccines if asked to do so by the FDA Ghana due to any unsatisfactory side effects. The clause above seems to be in conflict with the regulations of the FDA Ghana.
“We further note that the clause is ambiguous, vague, and skewed against the buyer. It is thus suggested that the agreement be amended to classify what the parties mean by ‘outside reasonable control’ and the same provided for the buyer.”
“The agreement says the buyer shall not be entitled to withhold or defect the whole or any part of any payment due for the delivered vaccine of any alleged defect, dispute, cross-claim or lien or any other claim whatsoever against the seller unless written notice has been given of the same in accordance with this schedule and such claim is recognized in writing by the seller and the seller agrees to such retention in writing signed by its authorized representative.”
“We note that Clause 1(A) is biased against the buyer. It is suggested that the clause be amended to allow the buyer to return any batch of vaccines once there is a defect and the buyer brings it to the notice of the seller…” This, he noted was unfair to Ghana.
Meanwhile, the Health Minister has been subjected to a probe by the Afenyo-led Committee in Parliament over the botched vaccine deal. He has been answering questions over his involvement and has since admitted he acted in bad faith over the procurement deal.
So far, many well-meaning Ghanaians have called for his resignation from office as some suggest he put his personal interest at the heart of the deal as opposed to the public health good.