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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Columnist: Appiah-Kubi, Stephen

Presidential jet trade-in is fair deal -Rejoinder

Mr Kwamena Bartels, the Minister of Information and National Orientation could not have got off to the worst possible start in his new role. His first public outing has landed him in a spot of bother- a trade-in of a jet that should have been sold many months ago.

The problem with Bartels is that not only does he lack charisma to be able to persuade and explain his point(s) to his audience convincingly, he often also talks before thinking about what the question really was. From the very moment that Dan Botwe was taken from the Information Ministry, I knew that a disaster was about to loom at that Ministry and possibly hit the government.

The ?transfer? of Mr Bartels was the proof that the government has not got much interest in the information ministry. I may sound very blunt, but that is very true. Bartels has proved time and again that he lacks a bit as far as public relations is concerned. It is the same Bartels who once declared that MPs would be given lands to farm to prove that farming is a very noble and profitable profession. Read the lines carefully- MPs would be given lands!

Whereas farmers in the rural areas have been crying for help, but have not been assisted in the way that they would have liked, Bartels declared the availability of such assistance, but it would go to MPs. He was later forced to retract his statement; with a very clear message from the government that there was no such deal in the offing! Even with this public relations goof, Bartels got the nod over Dan Botwe at the Information Ministry. Also, it would surprise most Ghanaians to note that at a point in time the Information Minister was not part of Cabinet (I think this was when Akomeah was there, but it was later changed).

The issue at stake now is the Gulf Stream Jet, which Bartels believes that HSBC?s offer of US$9.00 million was a bad deal compared to US$5.00 million ?valuation? offered by this new Chinese company, after lease payments of almost twice that figure. (And the biggest worry to me is that the ?new? owners are from China and what really shows that they may not have any links with HSBC anyway)

The NPP and the Bartels within the party believes that Ghanaians can be taken for a ride just as in previous years. The Rawlings era has taught Ghanaians a lot of lessons in politics. After tricking his way to power, honourable Rawlings is now one of the most comfortable Ghanaians living today, with poverty now a thing of the past for him and his family. Good luck to him, but not anymore would we sit down for such politricks (We all deserve to be sons and associates of presidents to be able to raise a loan of US$5.00 million to buy a hotel without any hotel management experience or perhaps collateral). Bartels has a lot to answer and must be made to explain further what he meant about the HSBC deal. International finance is not based on whims or rumours. Deprived of experience in governance, the NPP in opposition made very wild allegations about the size of the NDC government, government expenditure, contracts, projects and of course the Gulf Stream jet. But, after coming to power, Kufuor made a u-turn, telling Ghanaians his new vision for corruption ( and his definition of it with reference to Adam) and also about the size of government (what he believes government should be). This vindictive and school boy kind of politics is leading the country no where.

With the Gulf Stream case now throwing up very interesting development within the circles of government, it remains to be seen how the abandoned Aveyime Rice Project (Quality Grain) would pun out. We should put aside our divisive approach to politics and reason for the common good of all Ghanaians. If Bartels believes that it is wrong for the seller of a product to you to pay a much lower price for it later because it is the same person then he has not learnt his trade well. The same car dealer would not pay the same price you paid for a car a minute earlier if you change your mind (of course this applies to advanced economies because in Ghana car prices appreciate, but not in Europe- it is the reverse!).

Also, in football, even players are bought and loaned back to the same club. I am not holding brief for anyone here, but I am particularly surprised that a newly appointed minister of information could start off as a minister of misinformation. His argument is baseless and he can take any legal action against Peprah, but for now, he must learn his trade well, before he digs his own grave.

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