The Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi says the Akufo-Addo-led government’s decision to acquire a presidential jet at this time, is a case of misplaced priority.
“I want to submit very forcefully that the decision by the Akufo-Addo- Bawumia, NPP government to buy a new presidential jet is a misplaced priority and will amount to a waste of the public purse if allowed.”
Arguing out his submission on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Saturday, the politician explained that the public purse would be worse off should Ghanaians permit the government to undertake such a decision.
Interacting with host, Samson Lardy Anyenini, Mr Gyamfi stressed that government being aware of the woes of citizens, who are managing to cope in a post Covid -19 Ghana and still pursuing a quest to buy a presidential jet is unacceptable and an insult to the intelligence of citizens.
“The mere thought of it at this time is insensitive to the plights of the ordinary Ghanaian and an insult to our sensibility. If President Akufo-Addo and Bawumia cared about the sufferings of Ghanaians, they would not even think of buying a presidential jet at this time.
“Some of the justifications being mounted for this expenditure are mind-boggling. Our economy is in shambles as we speak. The country is broke because we are spending almost 100 per cent of our tax revenue on just interest payments. The interest on our debts.
“Even if you pick total revenue, that is oil revenue together with tax revenue and all the revenue we are projecting to get in 2021, we are spending that on just two budget line items: compensation which is the salary and wages of public sector workers and interest payment. We borrow for everything. Even money to buy fuel for the vehicles that our President and his entourage have been using, we borrow,” he stated.
His statement is in reaction to government’s decision to procure a new presidential jet, as indicated by Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin.
According to Mr Arhin, the government is in the process of doing so.
He explained that the move to get a bigger fit-for-purpose aircraft was part of a cost-saving measure on the travels of the President and other key state functionaries.
This new development comes at a time when the incumbent government has been chastised by the Minority in Parliament and some members of the general public for President Akufo-Addo’s foreign trips by charted aircraft and not the presidential jet, the Falkon.
It was made known to the public by MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa that the President’s recent travel to Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel with Global jet Luxembourg company, allegedly came at a cost of $14,000 per hour.
Also, Mr Ablakwa alleged that the President’s trip to France, Belgium and South Africa on the G-Kelt aircraft came at a cost of £15,000 per hour.
All these were disputed by Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul who argued that the Falcon jet could not be used because it lacked some facilities despite its being airworthy.
But the Minority found it unacceptable that one of the reasons the President could not travel on the presidential jet is because, “no President can shower in this aircraft. He cannot move from this aircraft straight into a meeting.”
Following this debate, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta was to inform the House of the cost of the President’s trip on the G-Kelt aircraft which allegedly came at a cost of £15,000 per hour.
But Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament that the National Security Minister is best placed to furnish Parliament with the details of the trip.
According to the North Tongu MP in an interview on Top Story, the presidential jet is in perfect condition although government says there are some faults.
Following government’s decision to not use the presidential jet, news broke that the Falkon jet had been lent to Liberian President, George Oppong Weah. This was also heavily criticised by Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who said it is improper for government to take such a decision.
But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has indicated it is a normal practice for countries to lend their aircraft to other Heads of State.
In a press release, the Ministry explained that as part of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relations, various friendly States provide assistance of different forms to each other.
“Government is not on a quest to dissipate wantonly, State resources but is focused on pursuing a pragmatic foreign policy that fosters regional integration and good neighbourliness in a climate of peace and stability. This ultimately inures to the benefit of Ghana and West Africa at large,” parts of the statement read.
Meanwhile, Dr Gideon Boako who is the Spokesperson and Aide to the Vice President on the show, stated that due to faults on the presidential jet, the President has been advised by the National Security not to use it for trips that last more than 4 hours.
“We want the President to travel and this current jet is unable to serve that purpose. On September 30, when the President was returning from the UN General Assembly, reports came that the jet that the President was using, had developed faults in one of the engines and so it became quite difficult for the President to even use the jet to come to Ghana. They had to do an emergency landing somewhere and change course with another flight. This presidential jet in its state does not have what it takes to do long journeys and this came from advice from the national security,” he said.
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