The in-coming Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, yesterday resisted attempts to drag him into the GH¢51.2 million Woyome scandal, saying the matter is still before court.
Mr Segbefia, a former deputy Chief of Staff, who defended the dodgy payment, was being grilled by the Appointments Committee of Parliament on his nomination as a Minister for Health.
When asked to comment on the GH¢51.2 million Woyome saga, the nominee, a lawyer, quickly took refuge in the judiciary, saying that the matter was subjudice, as it was still pending before court.
When his attention was drawn to the fact that the High Court had ruled on the case and that the Supreme Court had ordered the refund of the money, Segbefia said there was a pending appeal before the Court of Appeal.
Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Ebo Barton-Odro, who was allegedly complicit in the payment of the Woyome cash, jumped to the defence of Segbefia, saying the nominee could not be grilled on the scandal.
Segbefia, like Barton-Odro, had vehemently defended the payment of GH¢51.2 million to Woyome, justifying the fraudulent payment.
Speaking on the collapsing National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the recent threat by medical doctors to go on strike if government did not improve their conditions of service, Segbefia told the committee that he would convene a stakeholders’ meeting in that regard.
The minister-designate said the situation was of great concern to government and that when he gets the nod, he would meet with all stakeholders, so they would agree on whether the NHIS should continue to take care of some illnesses and find ways to sustain the scheme.
He said the National Health Insurance Levy was being increased to ensure that more money got to government chest to fund the NHIS.
When asked whether he was aware that his government had compounded the delayed payment by intentionally diverting NHIS funds which were statutory, into running of other sectors, the minister-designate said he was not aware, since he was new in that ministry and that when he gets the nod he would be in a position to verify.
On the recent threat by medical doctors to go on strike if the government did not do something about their conditions of service, the Health Minister-designate indicated to the Appointments Committee that he would meet with the doctors, dialogue with them and find an amicable solution to their problems.
The minister-designate was also questioned about the Ghana Health Service’s central medical store in Tema which was gutted by fire some months ago and whether he did not suspect any arson in the fire outbreak.
He told the committee that a body had been commissioned to investigate the fire outbreak and until it completes its work he would not be able to tell whether there was a case of arson.
A member of the committee, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, asked the minister-designate to explain to the committee media reports that he went to a festival in the Volta Region and told Voltarians to take advantage of his new appointment as a possible Minister of Health, since it amounted to ethnocentrism; but the minister said that his comments were to encourage the people of the Volta Region to be hardworking.
“I am sorry for that comment if that has been misconstrued to be tribalistic and that I am ready to withdraw and apologise to the people of Ghana,” he said.
The minister-designate for the Ashanti Region, Peter Anarfi Mensah, who came with a large retinue of chiefs and well wishers from Tepa, his hometown, was also grilled about his plans to help develop the Ashanti Region and said he would study all developmental documents which had been prepared for the region.
Source: Daily Guide
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