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General News of Monday, 10 December 2007

Source: Ghanaian Observer

Kufuor Hasn't Ordered Prez Jet - Newspaper

According to the newspaper Ghanaian Observer, highly-placed government sources have dismissed with contempt a story that appeared on Ghanaweb that President John Agyekum Kufuor ordered a Falcon 900 aircraft. The story, which Ghanaweb credited to the November 11, 2007 issue of the Africa Intelligence magazine (read) was posted on Ghanaweb the whole of last Friday and elicited all kinds of commentary, most of which were insulting of President Kufuor and his government.

The Ghanaweb story under reference said:

According to the AFRICA INTELLIGENCE n°528 - 8/11/2007 (LA LETTRE DU CONTINENT), the President of Ghana, John Kufuor, has ordered a New Falcon Aircraft. The 900 series, was sold by DASSAULT, at the cost of $37 Million and the plane is scheduled to be delivered in February 2010. The deal was done through SSB Bank in Accra.

The report, which is in french(see picture), did not state if the plane is for private use or for the state.

"This must be a mistake, because parliament knows nothing about this deal" , said an NDC member of parliament(MP), when asked to comment on the news item.

"He [Kufuor] leaves office in 2009, so I wonder why this deal was done in such a hurry" said an MP of the ruling party.

... more details later

Leading National Democratic Congress (NDC) man, Dr. Tony Aidoo was overheard on Accra-based Radio Gold on Saturday charging that a foreign newsmagazine had reported that President Kufuor has bought a new aircraft.

Checks by The Ghanaian Observer (GO) newspaer on the veracity of the publication over the weekend yielded results that though the Government has received a lot of offers from many aircraft manufacturing firms for the purchase of a presidential jet, it has not made any commitment by way of signing any memorandum of understanding or purchase agreement to that effect.

This disclosure controverts the assertion in the Africa Intelligence report that a deal has been concluded and the aircraft will be delivered in February 2010.

One highly placed and usually reliable sources close to President Kufuor told GO that `The government has not signed any MoU or purchase agreement for a presidential jet. In any case the authors of the said story should know that President Kufuor will leave office in January 2009 so if indeed the said aircraft is to be delivered in February 2010; where will President Kufuor be to use it?`

Continuing, he said if indeed such an aircraft were to be purchased it would not be a personal jet for President Kufuor but one for the state. `The claim by the unnamed NDC MP that the purported acquisition or purchase of the aircraft has not come to Parliament is ridiculous. If there is no MoU or purchase agreement as I have said, how can any thing be brought before Parliament for approval,` our source queried?`

"If this government will buy a presidential jet we will make sure that it is sent to Parliament for prior approval unlike the NDC that failed to do so when they purchased the Gulf Stream presidential jet,` our source said.

The NDC has never been happy that President Kufuor upon assumption of office in 2001 refused to use a Gulf Stream Presidential jet acquired by former President Rawlings and the NDC under very controversial circumstances. The government announced in May this year that it has finally sold off the controversial presidential jet to a Chinese company.

The government announced at the time that it had accepted an offer from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation to trade-in the Gulf Stream GIII aircraft for four K-8 military aircraft and one K-8 flight simulator for the Ghana Air Force.

An official government statement signed by the then Minister of Information and National Orientation, Kwamena Bartels, said the Gulf Stream aircraft, which had been valued at five million dollars, would be used as down-payment for the four K-8 aircraft and the flight simulator. It said the current market price for an air worthy Gulf Stream GIII aircraft in service went for about 6.5 million dollars according to Conklin and de Decker, world acclaimed and approved valuers in the aviation industry.

The Gulf Stream jet was then flown out to its new owners. The acquisition of the plane by former President Jerry Rawlings in 1999 became a major political issue as the current government then in opposition said it suspected underhand deals in the purchase. It became a major election campaign subject matter in 2000 and President John Agyekum Kufuor vowed not to use the plane when elected. He stuck to his vow and never used the plane, instead flying an F 28 for short flights and commercial flights for long distance trips.