KWEKU OFORI Asiamah, Minister-designate for the Transport Ministry, has explained how Frontiers Healthcare Services, a company that is undertaking COVID-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), got its contract award.
Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Tuesday in Accra, Mr. Asiamah said the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), which operated the KIA, only rented its space to Frontiers Healthcare Services.
He said that happened after the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had given confirmation on the certification of equipment to be used by Frontiers Healthcare Services.
He recounted that “Sometime in July/August, 2020, the President announced the government’s inclination to reopen the borders of the nation to commercial air traffic, subject to the availability of an effective system for COVID-19 testing. Following this, Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited expressed the preparedness to provide such service to the public, while indicating that its equipment had been tested by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). The Ghana Airport Company Limited did not rely on the bare word of Frontiers Healthcare Services. It sought to verify and confirm the due certification of the equipment of Frontiers Healthcare. On August 20, 2020, the MD of GACL wrote to FDA to confirm the certification of Frontiers Healthcare,” he noted.
Explaining further, Mr. Asiamah said by a letter dated August 25, 2020, the FDA wrote to GACL indicating that it had approved of the equipment of Frontiers Healthcare for use in the detection of SARS-COV-2 in Ghana. The on-site audit report carried on the equipment was attached to the letter, he noted.
He said following the receipt of such information, GACL, intending to enter into an agreement with Frontiers Healthcare, wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to seek its approval before executing any agreement with Frontiers Healthcare.
“By a letter dated August 26, 2020, the PPA replied to the GACL advising that the rental of office space by GACL to another company fell outside the scope of the PPA Act as amended. GACL was therefore advised by PPA to use its administrative procedures to execute the transaction. Consequently, on September 1, 2020, GACL entered into an agreement with Frontiers Healthcare to rent its office space to the company for consideration. The agreement was essentially for rental of office space. Paragraphs 4.4, 4.6, 4.7, 5.1 and 5.2 bear this out. The consideration payable by Frontiers was simply the payment of rent and service or utility charges,” Mr. Asiamah explained.
In the said rent agreement the GACL entered into with Frontiers Healthcare Services, the Transport Minister-designate revealed that the laboratory service provider was also required to make a payment of royalties of US$10.00 per each test done to the GACL.
“The payment of royalties to GACL did not imply that the agreement had to receive PPA approval,” he stressed.
He added, “Indeed, a precondition for an application of the PPA Act, and for that matter, obtaining PPA approval, is the use of public funds in the procurement of goods, works and services. GACL did not procure the services of Frontiers with public funds. The company offered to provide laboratory services to the public with their own equipment. No public funds were expended in getting them to provide the services to the public, apart from the provision of office space. Thus, the basic condition for an application of the PPA Act did not exist. In any case, GACL endeavoured to obtain PPA approval in respect of the contract for the rental of its space to the company. As stated already, the PPA indicated that the rental of office space fell outside the scope of the Procurement Act.
Presidential Taskforce, GHS
He however said the Presidential Taskforce and Ghana Health Service (GHS) were involved in the award of the said contract and therefore, could not give further details about that.