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General News of Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Source: Joy Online

Buying Presidential Jet is a priority - Minister

Defence Minister Albert Kan Dapaah says the government is acquiring two executive jets, not one, as has been suggested in ongoing public debate over plans to re-equip the Ghana Armed Forces and said the acquisition is not only necessary but also a state priority.

He said the Joint sub-committees of Finance and Defence of Parliament has unanimously approved a loan of 100 million dollars to re-equip the Ghana Armed Forces, particularly the Army. The Ghana Armed Forces comprises the Army, Navy and Airforce.

Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah was speaking on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show on Tuesday.

He said government’s decision to acquire the executive jets (commonly referred to as Presidential jets) was informed by a technical recommendation of the Ghana Airforce that the current fleet of aeroplanes (7) must be grounded by 2010 as a result of old age.

He said in all the government intends to acquire six new aeroplanes, including the two presidential jets for the Communication Squadron of the Army.

Kan Dapaah said an order for the planes must be placed now to ensure delivery by the 2010 deadline, unlike off the shelf items that could be bought over the counter, debunking claims that the government was rushing into committing a future president or government to an unnecessary contract.

He said if the government failed to place the order now, there will be no plane available to the Army by the deadline, and also argued that the presidential jets are not for the use of the president alone but is part of the military’s fleet for executive use.

He said the norm since independence has been that ‘presidential jets’ have been provided as part of the Army’s stock and that First President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah even had more than two.

He said four of the aeroplanes (Chinese-made) would be financed with a soft loan from the Chinese Government to paid over a period of 25 years, while the other two (French-made) would also be financed with a loan from Societe Generale.