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General News of Saturday, 9 October 2010

Source: BBC

'U-turn' over President Mills' jet condemned

BBC -- Ghana's government has been accused of double standards for inaugurating a new presidential jet - after blocking the aircraft order while in opposition.

The opposition NPP's Nana Obiri Boahen said he was shocked by the unveiling fanfare, calling it a "U-turn".

But the vice-president said the $30m (£19m) jet would enable officials to travel in safety and dignity.

John Atta Mills took over the presidency in January 2009 promising to cut wasteful government spending.

In his first state of the nation address in February 2009, President Atta Mills promised to impose "austerity measures" after replacing the NPP (New Patriotic Party) in power.

"As part of these measures we will review the decision to purchase two executive presidential aircrafts," he said in a speech to parliament.

"Ghana simply cannot afford the expenditure at this time and we certainly do not need two presidential jets."

The French-built Dassault Falcon replaces a 30-year-old aircraft.

On Thursday, the defence minister sought to play down the party point-scoring.

"This plane goes beyond political party consideration as both the past and present administrations worked hard to acquire it," Ghana's Daily Guide paper quotes Joseph Smith as saying.