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General News of Monday, 7 January 2002

Source: .

Prez Jet Repairs Cost 17.5 Billion Cedis

Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo has revealed that the refurbishment of the Fokker 28 Presidential Jet otherwise known as the flying coffin cost the state about $2.5 million (C17.5 billion).

"It is currently in very good condition," he told the Dispatch newspaper. Osafo-Maafo also explained further that although he is yet to receive the final invoices, "the refurbishment is roughly about $2.5 million but I am reliably informed that it is in a first class condition."

In an answer to whether the New Patriotic Party government would try to use it for long haul flights, he laughed and said, "oh no, we will not repeat other people's mistakes. Our usage of the Fokker 28 Presidential jet will be guided by advice from the technicians, one being short haul flights."

The government has refused to use the leased Gulfstream Jet, because of the unclear circumstances regarding its acquisition. The Finance Minister denied speculations that the government has been paying C100 million a day on the lease of the plane. " I am in charge of this country's finances and since I am here, we have not paid a penny. We are negotiating ourselves out of the whole deal," he said.

Delving into others issues, Mr. Osafo-Maafo, who was recently voted as one of the best two finance ministers in the world, frankly said that his greatest fears since taking up office were how to stabilise the cedi and bring inflation down.

"These were my fears because at the time we took over, inflation was about 41% and from June and December 2000, the currency had gone from C3, 500 to C7, 000 per one US dollar. And this really scared me. I therefore made it my policy to fight inflation, stabilise the currency by managing the fiscal aspects of the economy."