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General News of Thursday, 13 March 2008

Source: jfm/GHP

$37,000,000 For Presidential Jet ...

... $20m for Ghana@50
... $60m Prez Palace
... and now $37m for Prez Jet

In December 2007 GHP broke this story: Kufuor Orders $37 Million Private Plane, which was denied by the government: Kufuor Hasn't Ordered Prez Jet. Today, the presidential spokesperson, Andrew Awuni is admitting to the government’s plans to buy a $37 million presidential jet.

Awuni has been justifying the proposal which is before parliament for approval for the purchase of the Falcon 900 12-seater jet (read: 10-seater plane not suitable for president), which he says is part of a $100 million agreement to acquire equipment for the Ghana Air Force.

Government officials have been saying that the equipment when bought, would replace old fleet of the Air Force which will be grounded in about three years.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians are sharply divided over the issue.

Speaking to an Accra-based radio station -JOYFM - Awuni said, the proposal is not just about a presidential plane, but one to replace old fleet of the Air Force. He said the fleet includes an airbus and other things.

He said the proposal is about retooling the Ghana Air Force. He argued that pilots of the Ghana Air Force have to continue to fly to retain their licenses and therefore, there is the need to replace their old fleet of aircraft.

When he was asked how he would explain to Ghanaians who do not have water that the country has to spend $20 million to celebrate Ghana@50, $60 million to build a presidential palace and now $37 million on a presidential jet. He also asked, “how will you explain to Ghanaians that we are spending $600 million building the Bui Dam when we don’t have water?”

He added that Ghanaians should move away from what he termed ‘poverty mentality’.

Mr. Awuni said, in the past we didn’t build a presidential palace, we did not buy a presidential jet, and yet we did not have the amount of energy and water supply in the country currently.

"We are building a country and not a presidential place", he said.

He argued further that if that is the case “then we should stop building the roads, because we don’t have water, we should stop building the Bui Dam because we don’t have water, is that what we are saying?”

UPDATE: The planes are two one A319 airbus and the falcon jet total $100 million.