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Attorney General authorized execution of ambulance contract- Health Minister

Minister for Health, Kweku Agyeman Manu, disclosed in court today that the Attorney General’s Department wrote to both the Ministry of Health and Finance to continue with the execution of the contract with Big Sea LLC of Dubai for the supply of ambulances to the Republic of Ghana.

The minister who was led in evidence by the Attorney General Godfred Dame told a Financial and Economic Court sitting in Accra that the AG’s Department through the then Deputy Attorney General, Dr. Dominic Ayini, wrote in response to a letter from Blue Sea threatening to sue the Government of Ghana that the two ministries can go ahead with the contract “because it was legally binding”.

Reading copiously from the AG’s letter, Mr. Agyeman Manu told the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botchwey, that the letter indicated that as far as the AG was concerned, there was no basis for any of the parties to pull out of the agreement since they were bound by the terms.

Reading further, the health minister disclosed that the Attorney General stated that failure to carry out government’s obligations under the contract will “make it difficult for the government to put up a defense” in the event that Big Sea went to court.

The Attorney General, according to Mr. Agyeman Manu, further stated that he was satisfied that “all governmental approvals had been obtained” as this was a prerequisite for the execution of the contract.

The Minster for Health also told the court that upon receipt of the Attorney General’s letter, the then Minister for Health, Sherry Ayittey, wrote back to the Attorney General, expressing concern over the lack of a Financing Agreement between the Ministry of Finance and Stanbic Bank for a loan to fund the purchase of the 200 ambulances.

Responding to a question from Mr. Godfred Dame as to what happened after Sherry Ayittey’s letter, Mr Agyeman Manu said a letter was then written by the second accused to the Bank of Ghana requesting the establishment of letters of credit in favor of Big Sea.

According to Mr Agyeman Manu,the letter requesting the LC was written “without recourse to the Ministry of Health”.

He also told the court that a second letter was written about four days later to the Controller and Accountant General authorizing him to released an amount of GHS 806,688.75 to the Ministry of Health covering payment for the establishment of the letters of credit and other related expenses.

After this, he said the then Minister for Health instructed the Chief Executive of the National Ambulance Service to inspect the ambulances, which had been shipped into the country following payment to Big Sea.

He said the inspection by the Ambulance Service revealed some defects, which the Minstry brought to the attention of Big Sea. Big Sea, then wrote back acknowledging the defects and indicated their willingness to rectify the said defects.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson and former Chief Director of the Ministry Health, Dr. Sylvester Anemana as well as businessman, Richard Jakpa, have been charged with causing financial loss to the state over the importation of 30 ambulances that formed part of a consignment of 200 under a contract signed between the Ministry of Health and Dubai-based firm, Big Sea Limited in 2012.

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