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Monday, November 29, 2021

How did our ailing economy become buoyant to afford a new presidential jet? – Okudzeto Ablakwa

Government is initiating plans to acquire a new presidential jet

• Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is wondering how government will fund the cost of a new presidential jet

• According to the MP, a new presidential jet will cost the taxpayer not less than $65million

• His comment comes after the Head of Communications at the Presidency revealed government was initiating plans to purchase a new presidential jet

Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has questioned how government intends to fund the cost of a new presidential jet considering prevailing economic conditions in the country.

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According to the North Tongu MP, who has been on the President’s case recently accusing him of profligate lifestyle, after struggling to afford a pay rise of just 4% for public workers, it begs how the government of Ghana can afford a new jet which in his estimate, will cost not less than GHC329.6 million.

“The fundamental question therefore is — how did this ailing economy which cannot afford more than a 4% pay rise for agitating organized labour suddenly become buoyant to afford a new bigger ultra-luxury jet which by conservative market estimates would not cost the Ghanaian taxpayer anything less than US$65million (GHS392.6million)?”

“After the acute lack of accountability, disdain for Ghanaians seeking transparency and the gross disrespect of Parliament in the pursuit of our constitutional mandate of oversight, it would be exceedingly interesting to see how Parliament would be approached with this needless, gravely insensitive and badly-timed agreement for a new bigger ultra-luxurious aircraft in this climate of grand opacity and excruciating economic hardship,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The comment by Mr Ablakwa comes after the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, at a press briefing, disclosed that the government of Ghana was initiating measures to acquire a new presidential jet.

The disclosure by Mr Arhin follows a persistent advocacy by Mr Ablakwa that the president’s taste of luxury has led him to rent expensive private jets for his trips leaving behind the official presidential jet.

Reacting to Mr Arhin’s disclosure in his Facebook post, Okudzato Ablakwa averred that the president abandoning the official jet for chartered flights was to lay the foundation for a new jet acquisition.

“President Akufo-Addo has initiated steps to purchase a new bigger presidential jet, that is according to his spokesperson. It appears abandoning Ghana’s presidential jet for obscene luxury charters was to lay the foundation for this big announcement.

“The Akufo-Addo Administration has so far failed woefully to convince objective Ghanaians that the Falcon isn’t fit for purpose. Even the Liberian President disagrees with them,” he stated.

He went ahead to write that the current presidential jet has not reached its lifespan hence the choice for a new jet is simply a result of President Akufo-Addo’s insatiable desire for profligacy and extreme personal comfort.

“The Kufuor-led government informed parliament on the 19th of March, 2008 during the approval processes leading to the purchase of the Falcon (Ghana’s fourth presidential jet) that the lifespan of our presidential jet is for at least 20 years from the date of delivery being October 2010.

“Ghana’s current presidential jet is therefore barely 11 years old. The Namibian’s who use a similar presidential aircraft, albeit an older model— a Falcon 900B continue to use theirs after 30 years. (The Namibians purchased their Falcon in 1991).

“I am also not falling for the size propaganda. When President Akufo-Addo opted to charter ultra-luxury aircrafts, size was not on his mind. The Airbus ACJ320neo which he leased in May is a 17-seater. The Boeing 737 LX-DIO which he’s been flying subsequently and which he used to the US last week is a 19-seater. President Akufo-Addo did not on one occasion charter a 40 or 50-seater capacity aircraft. Remember our presidential jet is a 17-seater very much within the same capacity range of the President’s newly acquired taste for ultra-luxury monsters,” Mr Ablakwa stated.

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