Cost of President Akufo-Addo’s travels is a National Security issue – Finance Minister

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Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, has told Parliament that the Minister for National Security is best placed to provide details on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to France, Belgium and South Africa on a chartered flight.

He made this known in an answer to an urgent question filed by the Honourable Member of Parliament for the North Tongu constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who wanted to know “how much the President’s recent official travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa in May this year cost the Ghanaian taxpayer.”

Prior to filing the urgent question, Okudzeto Ablakwa had alleged that the Presidency had spent some 15,000 Pounds an hour on a private jet for 21hours to these three countries when the country’s Presidential jet was in a good condition.

According to the Finance Minister, the National Security Minister is best placed to provide the answer because “the President’s domestic and international travels are matters to do with National Security.”

Mr. Ofori Atta indicated in his answer that, “in line with the 2021 budget implementation instructions, the Ministry of Finance did not release any funds to the Chief of Staff, specifically for His Excellency, the President’s trip to France, Belgium and South Africa.”

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He further explained that, “The current practice is that the Ministry of Finance releases quarterly funds to the Heads of Department, in this case, Office of Government Machinery, Chief of Staff for all the operational activities of the Office. To facilitate the safe coordination of the President’s travels, domestic and foreign, the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security Secretariat work together to achieve this.”

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When the Minister was further pressed for answers as to whether indeed the National Security Minister was well placed to provide the cost of the Presidential travels, he retorted that “all things are allowable but not all things are permitted;” suggesting that the answer would be best provided in camera because it concerns the security of the President.

In the same vein, the Finance Minister declined to provide a specific answer to a similar question which appeared to be an equalization attempt, filed by the Dormaa East Member of Parliament, Paul Apreku Twum-Barimah. He also wanted to know “the cost of air travel of the President using chartered flight between the period 2013 to 2016.”

In a response to the Minister’s answer, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa said he was disappointed in the answer because the Minister had given the impression that he was gathering the facts to furnish Parliament with the necessary information needed.

Speaking in an interview with at the sidelines of the sittings of the House, the North Tongu MP observed that the Minister’s actions are indications of a “Government who is seeking to cover up; is seeking to conceal; is refusing to disclose the cost of this profligate luxury travels.”

Source: Clement Akoloh ||

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