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Feature Article of Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Columnist: Amponsah, Jerry

Mills and his New York mecca: Full of games with taxpayers’ money

As he wraps up his presidency, President Atta Mills’s obsessed incessant visits to New York are raising doubts on Ghanaians minds. Yesterday, it was the investors from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Today, it’s Business Council for International Understanding. 7th December, angry voters will ground him – for good. He has developed smart moves, taking taxpayers for a ride to visit “New York.” Maybe, it has something best he needs most!

Osu Castle keeps hauling down on the good people of Ghana with hollow hopes. President Atta Mills (with his hefty entourage) skyways to the US with sky-rise promises – and flies back to Ghana with empty hands in deep silence and shame. The timing was somewhat confusing, in explaining to journalists over President Mills’s desperate nine days’ wonders trip to the New York, Koku Anyidoho cleverly twisted Ghanaians minds over the strange and the sudden visit: “President Mills was returning to America to meet with some investors as a run-up to his recent visit to the New York Stock Exchange.” “A number of investors in the US had lined up to meet President Mills after his visit to the NYSE,” he added. Words Ghanaians considered it to be a spoof.

And this was exactly a week after he returned from a month- long trip to the North America – in addition to a two-week holiday in the US. Your spokesman made the controversial trip sound too rosy: “The President will use this opportunity especially in this festive season and to sort out some things to wrap up the action year.” It sounded too good to be true –and profitable.

Although, it was Christmas, the president couldn’t wait – as if the “investors” were on their heels running onto a different planet – rushed to the US with a very big entourage to make a historical success. The nation was officially informed that the president was embarking on a 9-day business visit to the US: 25th December to 2nd January. But he overspent the official date – with his large entourage – and returned unannounced. And he got beaned. According to a source, the state forked out over $160,000 to settle parking fees for the presidential jet at the JFK airport. “Gargantuan” New York City hotel bills also played its role to drain the national coffers.

Things sorted. “Action year” wrapped up. Where are the so-called investors? After four good months down the line, the Economic Law Professor has laid down nothing on the table over the much-popular trip. Taxpayers are growing impatient over the returns on their money wasted on that strange business trip.

Again, same-President Mills is coming to New York to meet with – not NYSE investors – Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU).

Details and objective(s) of the meeting between Ghana government and the “highly influential” organization still remain unknown to the Ghanaian taxpayer. What happened to the back-to-back engagement with the NYSE investors President Atta Mills itched and spent eye-popping highfalutin amount of taxpayers’ money on?

Now, Mr. President, the Ghanaian taxpayers – who will be judging you on 7th December – have also lined up in the scorching sun and demanding results on your last engagement with NYSE investors. And they are keeping cool, stretching the lined up to show you the exit door.

President Mills had three good years under his belt to perform foreign investment magic. He blew it off! With less than a year for angry voters to show him the exit door, he’s embarking on a wild-goose chase – draining state coffers. No strategic investor will take an obvious risk in an economy facing elections - much more a sinking economy. Meanwhile, with its unaddressed violence and disturbances the voters’ registration exercise is engulfed in, the country is not even safe enough to attract potential businesses. Mr. President, for whatever reasons you’ll be in New York for, enjoy your visit with the track, “Man in the Mirror!”

Jerry Amponsah (Sabbato) Communications Directorate NPP-New York (US)

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