General News of Tuesday, 7 August 2012
The New Statesman is reliably informed that the John Dramani Mahama-led ruling National Democratic Congress administration has budgeted a whopping GH¢30 million for the funeral of the late former President John Evans Atta Mills.
A source at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department told the New Statesman that the Mahama government had so far collected GH¢10 million out of the budgeted GH¢30 million required to fund President Mills’ funeral, describing this as “pure stealing.”
An amount of over GH¢2 was said to have been expended on the one week remembrance ceremony for the late president, from the Efua Sunderland Park event to the Regions and the Districts.
The entire GH¢30 million cost is to be borne by the Ghanaian taxpayer, as government believes it was not “decent” to invite the public, particularly, corporate Ghana, to contribute towards the funeral, a move which could have fetched an estimated GH¢10 million.
The source revealed that already GH¢2 million has been spent on ribbons and red cloth to adorn some principal streets of Accra, with another GH¢2 million extra being demanded for the rest of Accra. To “cover the whole country”, the source added, the Mills Funeral Planning Committee has budgeted GH¢4 million for the adornment of streets across all 10 regions of the country.
“The cost of hotels, meals and protocol vehicles for international guests is put at GH¢1m. According to the budget presented, every NDC regional office is being given an average of GH¢200,000 to bus in people, for their meals and accommodation in some cases,” the AG source said.
The source continued, “The budget for beverages alone, both alcoholic and soft, is GH¢10 million, with bill for food pegged at GH¢4 million. There are also budgets for canopies, billboards, documentaries, etc.”
On the funeral brochure alone, which the NDC is considering to print in Asia and to ship home by air freight, government is spending over GH¢5 million to print 2 million copies, with some members of the Funeral Planning Committee pushing for the number of prints to be doubled, which according to indications, is likely to succeed.
Corroborating the cost of the late President’s funeral, a source at the headquarters of the NDC told the New Statesman, on condition of anonymity, that the amount that had been quoted by the source at the Accountant General’s office is true.
“The cost of Mills’ funeral could have enraged the Ghanaian taxpayer, the more reason why, perhaps, the Chairman of the Funeral Planning Committee, Kofi Totobi Kwakye, refused to reveal the cost at last Friday’s press conference, when he was asked by journalists,” a source at the NDC headquarters told the New Statesman.
The NDC source further added that the NDC had calculated and concluded that the late President Mills would be a “great asset” for 2012 election and is therefore seeking to hide some of their electioneering materials under the funeral expenditure.
Calls have been made by civil society organizations, sections of the media and the general public for transparency on the funeral bill and its cost implications to the Ghanaian taxpayer, which government has, thus far, refused to disclose.