Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, has posted on his Facebook wall that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, Thursday prayed Parliament for more time to enable him prepare to brief the House on the exact amount spent on the President’s foreign trip to France, Belgium and South Africa on the G-Kelt aircraft.
In Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s post sighted by JoyNews on Thursday, June 17, he wrote, “Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is asking Parliament for more time to respond to my urgent question on the full cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent luxury travels to France, Belgium and South Africa.”
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta was today, Thursday, supposed to brief the House on the cost of the controversial luxury trip by President Akufo-Addo which the Minority claims cost £15,000 per hour, an assertion which has been debunked by the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul.
The information about the Finance Minister’s presence in the House was communicated to the media by the Business Committee through its provisional order paper. But today’s order paper did not indicate that the Finance Minister would discuss the cost of the alleged luxurious trip.
The absence of this topical issue was questioned by the North Tongu legislator, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa earlier today.
“Coming to the House today and looking at the order paper, the question that was advertised for the Honourable Minister responsible for Finance on the cost of the President’s recent trip to France, Belgium and South Africa is conspicuously missing on today’s order paper and Mr Speaker, I am wondering what is the cause of this rather strange development,” he said.
According to the North Tongu MP, the request for extra time by the Finance Minister comes as a surprise to him since his outfit had received a two-week prior notice to present the details to the House.
He, therefore, described Mr Ofori-Atta’s absence as disappointing and a sad day for accountability and good governance.
Controversy surrounding Akufo-Addo’s G-Kelt flight
Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Dominic Nitiwul disclosed why President Akufo-Addo could not use the presidential jet on his recent business trips to France, Belgium and South Africa.
He noted that the Falcon jet could not be used because it lacked some facilities despite its being airworthy. This he said would not give the President the opportunity to shower before heading to his meetings.
“Again, when he (Akufo-Addo) is travelling with more than 20 people for a business trip, as he has done and brought huge sums of money for this nation, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the President to prepare themselves,” he added.
“Also in this Covid era, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the President’s recent trip, Falcon jet couldn’t have been taken because we would have had to do technical stops which is not desirable. When he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing that has brought huge sums of money to this country the President may need not just the Falcon.
“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,” he stated.
The decision to employ the use of a more conducive aircraft he stated, has saved the country some money.
According to him, the state would have incured additional cost if the presidential jet had been used instead.
He revealed that the team would have been flown earlier, before the President’s arrival, and camped at a hotel which would have come at a cost.
“I said that when a President has to travel like that it is unwise to use a small aircraft because the entire team has to travel two or three days before to wait for the President. The hotel bills alone cumulatively add up to the state and it is more expensive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has rejected the rationale behind the use of the G-Kelt aircraft that is said to cost £15,000 per hour.
The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in response stated that the actions of the President prove he is unwilling to protect the public purse despite encouraging Ghanaians to assist the government to recover the economy due to the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“The Minority is stating that the reasons provided by Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul to Parliament are an insult to the Ghanaian people. It does not make sense and we don’t see the head and tail of it.
“The other untenable excuse is that the presidential jet as it is now, the President cannot take a bath. I mean the most ridiculous thing perhaps we have ever been told in Parliament. When the President is on land in Accra, does he take his bath every six and a half hours? Why is having a shower so important?” he asked.
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