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General News of Wednesday, 28 May 2003

Source: GNA

Ghana Already Lost $7.5m On Prez Jet

Gov’t's Action On Gulf Stream Jet Is Too Late - Minority

The Minority in Parliament today described as "too little, too late", last week's announcement by the Minister of Information that the government had taken a decision to sell the Gulf Stream Executive Jet purchased during the administration of the national Democratic Congress (NDC).

In a statement issued in Parliament House and signed by the Deputy Minority Whip, Mr John Tia said it is unfortunate that the government had come to "this belated decision" only after the country had lost 7.5 million dollars in semi-annual lease payments on the aircraft.

It said the press statement by the Minister of Information, Nana Akomea on the aircraft contained nothing new, as all the information had been in the public domain since 1999. The Minority recalled that as a candidate in the past election, President John Agyekum Kufuor declared categorically that he would not use the plane if he were elected.

It said "As early as July 2001, a delegation of HSBC called on the Senior Minister, J.H. Mensah and presented him with relevant documents and information pertaining to the Jet, including the minute book of Gallen Limited, which was sent by courier. It added that "HSBC officials also offered to dispose of the Jet and presented the Senior Minister with a Sales Agency Agreement but the government failed to take advantage of the offer. The statement said it is regrettable that, notwithstanding, these developments; "government over the last two-and-a-half years has preferred to utilise the Jet more as a propaganda tool than to save the nation the loss of such a colossal amount of money".

The statement said during the period of the last government, a conscious decision was made to limit the size of presidential delegations to not more than 15 persons and therefore, the Gulf Stream size is appropriate for such travels. The Minority said it could understand, however that the present administration, with the presidential entourage sometimes running into 40 persons, a plane the size of the Gulf Stream would be inadequate.

It said "The people of Ghana will at the appropriate time demand accountability from those, who have wilfully caused this financial loss of 7.5 million dollars just to satisfy their political egos."