Parliament defers approval for drone deal again

Parliament defers approval for drone deal again

Parliament has for the second time deferred voting on the services agreement for the delivery of medical supplies by drones.

This is to allow for the Health Committee consider fresh information available on the deal between the government and Fly Zipline.

Parliament on Monday deferred the approval process for the agreement to allow for some regulatory checks to be completed.

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, explained that “there are outstanding regulatory approvals for compliance with the law before the House takes the decision, and the Minister seems to agree with me.”

The Minority in Parliament, however rejected the agreement outright, citing the fact that it was sole-sourced.

The Minority is also demanding presidential intervention to halt the agreement.

“We’ve said it that this one, it is a rip-off. If even everyone supports it, me Cassiel Ato Forson will not support it because I think it is a rip-off. I think it is something the president must intervene in. The Vice President is leading this country unto a path of unrighteousness because obviously, we can use $27.8 million for something better,” the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson said.

Mr. Forson also claims operating the services will cost the state $145,000 dollars monthly at each distribution centre.

The Minority Spokesperson on Health, Joseph Yieleh Chireh also said the agreement was a misplaced priority.

The Wa West MP said the amount of money that will be spent on this project could have been used to provide healthcare services for persons in deprived communities.

On the other hand, the Deputy Information Minister, Pius Hadzide, dismissed suggestions that operating the drone-delivery system for medical supplies at just four distribution centres for four years would cost the country $27.8 million.

Gov’t justification

Mr. Hadzide stated that the highest estimated cost of implementing the programme at each distribution centre is $88, 000, with rebates potentially reducing the amount by $11, 000.

He stated that the figures mentioned by Mr. Forson were a figment of the legislator’s imagination.

“He speaks about the cost per centre being $145, 000. That is absolutely false. The cost per centre is actually calculated based on the number of deliveries that every centre is making. It has been categorized; if you make between 0 and 15 deliveries a day, at the end of the month, there’s a charge that you get and that goes on to over a 100 deliveries. The maximum cost for 100 deliveries from a centre is $88, 000 at the end of the month, which is also open to an 11, 000 rebate if we pay on time. That brings the maximum cost to about $77, 000. I don’t know where Ato Forson is getting his figures from. It’s not in the agreement and only exists in his imagination.”

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is in favor of the deal saying it is the most efficient and cost-effective means of reaching under-served areas in the country.

According to the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the use of drone technology to deliver emergency services fits perfectly into government’s plan of achieving access to Universal healthcare in the country.

By: Duke Mensah Opoku | citinewsroom.com | Ghana

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