People are using Covid-19 to engage in grand corruption – Kofi Bentil

People are using Covid-19 to engage in grand corruption – Kofi Bentil

Senior Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil has stated that some individuals are riding on the Covid-19 pandemic to exploit the country and engage in grand corrupt schemes.

Mr Bentil speaking on Newsfile, June 12, told JoyNews that both the past and current government have leveraged on crisis that hit the country and some cases, globally to indulge in shady activities.

“But clearly, people use crisis in this country as opportunity for grand corruption. In the past government, they did it. With Covid-19, they are doing it on different levels. Covid-19 funds are unaccounted for. People just use crisis as opportunity for corruption and over again we see it happening,” he stated.

In February this year, the Ghana government adjusted the price of testing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) from $150 to $50 for Ghanaians while non-Ghanaians continue to pay the old charge.

This was after massive backlash on the high cost of testing carried out by the Frontiers Healthcare Services in agreement with the management of Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL).

According to Mr Bentil, research undertaken by his outfit on the charges paid by returnees at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) reveals that “clearly this was something created for some other people aside the people of Ghana to benefit and it doesn’t look good.”

He noted that government’s decision to review the charges downwards implies it had the mandate to do so earlier.

“I remember saying there is nothing that can be used to justify that cost. Subsequently, they reduced it. The fact that government could reduce it meant that that cost was arbitrary and there were so many other issues,” he told host Samson Lardy Anyenini.

In recent developments, Transport Minister Kwaku Asiamah who addressed the floor of Parliament, June 10, revealed that Frontiers Healthcare Services accrued $16.2 million from Covid-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) between September and December 2020.

He explained that the agreement between the Ghana Airport Company (GACL) and Frontiers Healthcare Services is such that GACL takes $10 out of the $150 charged for every test, while the rest ($140) goes to the Frontiers Healthcare Services.

Over the period of 4 months, i.e. from September to December, the total revenue accrued from the Covid-19 testing was about $17.3 million.

For the Senior Vice President of IMANI, this report from the Transport Ministry is an indication that the contract should be reviewed to address its shortcomings.

According to him, a contract that provides the state $10 out of the total cost is detrimental, hence, raises a red flag that requires immediate attention.

“Questions have been raised about the test’s own efficacy. People get to the airport and we have spoken to some, they took a test and they come here, it is negative. And some people allege that there have been payments… So people don’t care about the efficacy of the test and questions have been raised whether it is so or not.

“There has to be a review. One, on the contract propriety,” he argued.

Meanwhile, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu who has subscribed to the review of the contract has called on the government to beef up its testing at the airport to ensure the Indian variant of the virus does not find its way through the country.

“With the latest data that has been released by Public Health Newland which shows that the reproductive number of the new variant that we are dealing with globally is past 5.6… The one that got to Ghana was about 3.1. Now the one that has come from India is 5.6.

“We cannot risk that coming to Ghana because of the speed with which it would spread through the country. So I won’t sit here and say that should be done away with but I would agree with Kofi that the pricing needs to be looked at and the contractual agreement needs to be relooked at,” he stated.