Minority Spokesperson on Finance Committee, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson

The Minority has threatened to hold on to the approval of the budgetary allocation for the Office of the President until President Akufo-Addo has accounted for his foreign travels.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2021 budget reading, which was delivered in Parliament on Wednesday by the Finance Minister, the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Casiel Ato Forson, indicated that the Minority Caucus has taken note of an allocation of ¢3 billion for the Office of the President.

But due to what he described as “a huge wastage in public resources,” he said, the Minority Caucus will exercise caution in approving the budget for the President’s Office.

“Let us serve this warning that we in the Minority insist that until the Minister Responsible for National Security appears before us to answer the question relating to the President’s travel with Private Jet, the Office of the President budget will not be approved by us,” he said.

This comes after two urgent questions on the President’s chartered flights for foreign travels have been filed by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu.

Background

In May this year, Mr Okudzeto stirred controversy when he alleged that the nation paid £15,000 an hour as the President opted for luxurious aircraft instead of using the Presidential jet on his travels to France, Belgium and South Africa.

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee told JoyNews the President is abusing his discretionary power by not using the presidential jet for his foreign travels.

He filed a question, and Parliament summoned Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to answer questions on the cost and why Ghana’s presidential jet was not used.

The Minister justified the President’s decision to rent the aircraft, arguing that the capacity of the presidential aircraft can no longer carry the President’s entourage.

He told the House that the Finance Minister is best to provide other details regarding the cost incurred on the trip.

Not satisfied with this answer, Mr Ablakwa filed another question to summon the Finance Minister to discuss the cost.

Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before Parliament and noted that questions on the cost and travels of the President will be best answered by the National Security Ministry.

Whilst the nation is yet to be informed of the actual cost incurred by both trips, the former Chief of Staff has suggested an alternative method that can be adopted to halt the extravagant lifestyle of leaders at the expense of taxpayers.

Kwadwo Mpiani, in an interview with JoyNews, noted that policies that will oblige Presidents to pay for their private foreign travels will protect the public purse.

Mr Ablakwa again in September alleged that the President hired another luxurious aircraft on his recent foreign trips to the UK and Germany. 

According to him, the nation paid GH¢3.4 million for President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to the United Kingdom and Germany.

But, the Director of Communications at the Jubilee House, Eugene Arhin, has dismissed the claims stating that the information put out by Mr Ablakwa on the Presidents’ recent travel is false.

He added that President Akufo-Addo did not use a Luxembourg-based aircraft registered LX-DIO as suggested by the MP.



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