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General News of Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Source: Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Document before parliament NOT for military jets

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu says the document on the purchase of jets that government has submitted before parliament for ratification is not for aircraft for the military but luxurious jets.

Mr. Iddrisu, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale South, was speaking to Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, host of Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday morning, March 19, 2008.

He said the government is purchasing six aircraft – two MA 60, two Y 212 E, an Airbus and a Falcon-900.

Mr. Iddrisu said the government is not asking parliament to consider the four aircraft the military intends to acquire for but the two that government wants to buy.

He said according to the document submitted by the military, they are requesting for four aircraft, and they have stated that negotiations for purchase of the aircraft are still ongoing. He said the military has therefore, informed parliament that when negotiations are concluded, they will bring the contract before parliament for approval.

He was emphatic that the document before parliament for consideration covers two luxurious jets and not four jets for the military.

He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) when it was in opposition argued against the purchase of the Gulf Stream by the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The arguments they put forth was that buying a presidential jet was not a priority in the face of the poverty in the country.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu said at the time the NDC advocated for a presidential jet, the NPP argued that it was not a priority because the people lacked access to potable drinking water, education, health and other facilities.

He argued that those arguments are relevant today as they were in the past.

Citing the memo that the NPP government has submitted to parliament he said, government claims that they are doing the purchase in pursuance of the Armed Forces’ Strategic Plan 2005-2010.

This according to Mr. Iddrisu is at variance with the claim by the same government that the move to buy the jets was based on a letter from the Armed Forces in 1997 making the request for aircraft.

Meanwhile, he also said the contract detailing the terms of agreement of purchase of the jets has expired.

He quoted Clause 22 of the 33-page document before parliament saying that clause makes the contract null and void if the contract was not signed by March 10, 2008.

Clause 22 of the agreement states that if by March 10, the sales agreement was not reached, the contract becomes void. He said today is past March 10, and Parliament was yet to ratify the document. And meanwhile, parliament has gone on recess for the Easter holidays.

He therefore, challenged the Defence Minister to make the 33-page contract document public for Ghanaians to see what is in it.

He was clear on the fact that the NDC has no problem whatsoever with government’s plan to purchase equipment for the Ghana Armed Forces, particularly the Ghana Airforce.