Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has stated that the National Security Minister is best placed to give the needed details of the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to France, Belgium and South Africa.
According to him, this is because the President’s travels fall within the remit of National Security.
“Mr. Speaker, the Presidents’ domestic and international travels are matters to do with National Security. Therefore, the National Security Minister is best placed to furnish this Honorable House with the details needed.
“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,” Mr Ofori-Atta said in Parliament on Wednesday, July 21.
Mr Ofori-Atta, was on June 7, summoned by the House to provide clarity on the matter, after North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, alleged that the President’s trip on the G-Kelt aircraft, instead of the presidential jet, cost £15,000 per hour.
Mr Ablakwa, who doubles as the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, accused President Akufo-Addo of lavish spending even as the country goes through economic hardships.
When asked why President Akufo-Addo did not use the Presidential jet for this trip, Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwul told Parliament that the Falcon was not conducive and presented many challenges when the President was embarking on his 10-day foreign travel.
Speaking to Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story, Mr Nitiwul explained that, to ensure the safety of the President and his crew, the G-Kelt aircraft was hired.
“What we looked at was the safety of the passengers and the crew, not the amount involved. That is the first thing we look out for before we look at other factors,” he said.
After Mr Nitiwul’s response, the Finance Minister was summoned to respond to questions on the cost of the trip on June 7, but he communicated to the House that he needed more time to put the details together.
Appearing before Parliament today, Wednesday, Mr Ofori-Atta stated that the Ministry of Finance did not release any funds to the Chief of Staff, specifically, for this trip.
“Mr Speaker, in line with the 2021 budget implementation instructions, the Ministry of Finance did not release any funds to the Chief of Staff, specifically, for President’s trip to France, Belgium and South Africa or any other destination.
“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,” he explained.