Ambulance case: I was absent from Ministry when contract was executed — Anemana
A former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health has testified that he was absent from the ministry at the time steps were being taken to procure 200 ambulances for the state.
Sylvester Anemana, together with a former Deputy Minister of Finance and now the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, and Richard Jakpa, a businessman, have been charged for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase 200 ambulances for Ghana between 2014 and 2016.
They have, however, pleaded not guilty to five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully cause financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.
The prosecutors have specifically charged Mr Anemana with one count of abetment of willfully causing financial loss to the state and one count of contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
Giving his evidence-in-Chief after Dr Forson had closed his case, Mr Anemana testified that he witnessed the signing of the final agreement with Big Sea Trading on December 19, 2012.
That was after he had written to Big Sea Trading to provide the ministry with information needed for Value for Money(VFM) audit to be undertaken based on the then Attorney-General’s advice leading to the revised draft agreement.
He added that as soon as the government took over the administration of the country on January 7, 2013, a time when he was still taking steps to procure the 200 ambulances, he was transferred to the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology as the Chief Director, adding that he handed over to Salamatu Abdul Salam as the acting Director of the Health Ministry.
He further added that at the time of his transfer, Dr Forson was not a Deputy Minister of Finance.
“I must say that from the February 19, 2013 when I left MOH, whatever steps were taken by my predecessors' to procure the 200 ambulances for the Republic of Ghana within the stipulated time stated in the agreement was unknown to me during my two years absence from the ministry.
“Whatever might be the reasons why the agreement could not be executed during my absence from the MOH for two years can rightly be answered by my predecessors”, he said in his statement to the court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe
He further testified that he did not see any financial loss caused to the state under a contract which was still valid and binding the parties, as the parties were still negotiating the terms under the contract.
Per the A-G’s facts accompanying the charge sheet, in 2009, while delivering the State of the Nation Address, the then President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, indicated that new ambulances would be purchased to expand the operations of the National Ambulance Service.
Jakpa, who is a local representative of Big Sea General Trading Ltd, a company based in Dubai, subsequently approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal that he had arranged for finance from Stanbic Bank for the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.
Parliament approved the financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank.
According to the facts, on November 19, 2012, Dr Anemana wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking approval to engage Big Sea through single sourcing for the supply of the 200 ambulances.
They added that on August 7, 2014, Dr Forson wrote to the Bank of Ghana for Letters of Credit covering €3.95 million for the supply of 50 ambulances in favour of Big Sea.
The Letters of Credit were accordingly released to Big Sea.