Parliament’s Committee on Government Assurances Committee Monday became incensed over the refusal of the outgoing Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah to appear before it, describing the Minister’s conduct as “disrespect” to Parliament.
The Committee members were furious that the Minister had on two consecutive occasions dishonored an appointment to brief the Committee on why government had not met assurances it gave to complete some projects in the health sector by 2014.
The Minister had been invited more than two months ago and a meeting had been scheduled for February 25, 2015, but he failed to honour the appointment. He also failed to state in writing to the Committee why he could not be available.
Dr Agyemang Mensah however wrote to the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzra, MP for Ho West, asking for a rescheduling of the meeting.
Both parties agreed that today Monday, March 16, 2015 would be most convenient.
However, the minister failed to show up.
The Committee, after waiting in vain for the Minister to attend the meeting, went into a close sitting to proffer sanctions against the Minister for “snubbing” a committee of Parliament, adding that such sanctions would deter other invited personalities from standing the committee up.
The government in the 2013 and 2014 budgets promised to undertake and complete some health infrastructural projects in the country. The projects include the construction of the Maternity Block of the Tafo Government Hospital, the rehabilitation of the Children’s Block of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the installation of new MRI and CT scan machines at the hospital, completion of the Eye Centre of the Techimantia Polyclinic and the construction of the Bomaa and Kwatire polyclinics in the Brong Ahafo Region.
When the Committee inspected the sites of the various projects, they discovered that they had not been completed, contrary to the assurances the Minister of Health had made.
The Committee for instance, found out that an amount of $100 million was required to complete and install equipment at the KATH Children’s Block project.
It was revealed, during the tour, that although the MRI and CT scan machines had been installed and were in use, the MRI machine did not have a work station leading to loss of revenue. Helium gas for the MRI was found to be at a low threshold and needed to be replaced within two weeks at the time of the visit.
In the case of the Tafo Government Hospital, the Committee found that the project was on hold and a lot of the window panels procured remained unused because they did not fit the design of the building.
While the Committee deliberated on the issue, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Mr Sylvester Anemana, accompanied by two other officials of the Ministry turned up with an explanation that the Minister who just arrived from a conference in Niger, got to know that the President had assigned him to another ministry.
“We tried to contact him today but could not get him. We were informed that he is attending an emergency meeting at the Flagstaff House. His deputy is also at a Health Insurance conference in Taiwan,” Anemana said.
But the Committee members rejected that reasoning and said the Committee needed to “bite hard.”
The three officials from the Ministry were subsequently dismissed by the Committee.