Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister for Finance, is expected to appear before Parliament today, Thursday, June 17, 2021, to respond to questions on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to France, Belgium, and South Africa.
According to Parliament’s provisional order paper for today, MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, will ask the Minister the cost of the official trips of the president to the taxpayer.
The urgent question has generated controversy following an earlier publication by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa with regards to the cost incurred by the President when he chartered a supposed luxurious private jet.
Ahead of the appearance, the North Tongu MP in a Citi News interview said he expects the Minister to be truthful.
“The Minister responsible for Finance will appear before Parliament to answer the second leg of my question. I do hope that the Finance Minister will be very transparent and probably we shall begin to see some conceding on the part of the government.”
On the same issue, the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has justified why President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, didn’t use the presidential jet for his recent trips.
The Minister was specifically dragged to Parliament to answer the first leg of Ablakwa’s question on the airworthiness of the Presidential jet.
According to Mr. Nitiwul, the ultimate factor in deciding the type of aircraft the President uses for his trips is “safety”.
He insisted that the challenges with the current presidential jet such as the limited passengers it can carry, the number of times required for refuelling on a trip, and luggage capacity among others, makes the aircraft not fit for purpose.
He concluded that no President can even take his shower on the aircraft when the need arises.
“This aircraft will carry a load of 11 persons minus the crew. When this aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of the USA or Asia, it will not load a crew of more than eight plus the luggage. So it depends on where it is going. Secondly, I have also said the aircraft has to do refuelling stops, and also in this COVID-19, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the president’s recent travel, the Falcon couldn’t have been taken because he would have had to do technical stops which are not desirable, and when he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing for business trips that brought huge sums of money for this country, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the president to prepare themselves.”
“In fact, the president would also have to go a day ahead because no president can shower in this aircraft. He cannot move from this aircraft straight into a meeting.”
The North Tongu lawmaker has claimed President Akufo-Addo has spent an amount of GHS 2.8 million on his recent travels to only South Africa and France, using the services of a private jet.
He accused the President of blowing the money “to satisfy his insatiable appetite and comfort at the expense of the suffering masses”.
“Let’s further analyse President Akufo-Addo’s latest trip to Europe: per Flightradar24, the G-KELT aircraft left Accra with the President to Paris on the 16th of May — a 6 and half hour duration. Airlifted the President from Paris to Johannesburg for 11 hours on the 23rd of May.”
“Then Johannesburg to Accra on the 25th of May was a five and half hour flight. This gives us accumulated flight travel of 23 hours; so at £15,000 an hour, it thus cost us a colossal £345,000. At the current exchange rate, that is a staggering GHS2,828,432.80,” he posted.