Kwadwo Mpiani Wades Into Akufo-Addo’s Foreign Travels On Rented Private Jets

Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, former Chief of Staff under the Kufuor administration Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, former Chief of Staff under the Kufuor administration

Former Chief of Staff under the Kufuor administration, has waded into the foreign trips of the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, calling for a national policy mandating the President to pay for the cost of private travels using the Presidential jet.

Kwadwo Mpiani, who was part of the government that bought the abandoned presidential jet, in an interview with JoyNews on Wednesday, noted that policies that would oblige Presidents to pay for their private foreign travels will protect the public purse.

Citing the USA, Mr Mpiani, said Presidents are required to refund the cost incurred when they use the official aeroplane, Air force One, for unofficial duties like rallies and other private trips.

"Maybe President using the official aircraft for some other things other than his works as a President and for his own private purposes in some countries the President will have to pay for the cost of that travel.

"In other words, the state will calculate how much the President spent on the private trips, and he [the President] will have to reimburse the state for the cost of that travel," he said.

This comes in the wake of new allegations by Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that the nation paid ¢3.4 million for President Akufo-Addo's recent trips to the United Kingdom and Germany.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Tongu, once again caught President Akufo-Addo, in another luxurious expenditure on chartered private jet at between US$18,000 and US$22,000 per hour if dealing with government and not dealing directly with the operators of the LX-DIO, who are based in Luxembourg.

However, if the government is dealing directly with Global Jet Luxembourg, the MP revealed that Ghanaian taxpayers must be paying at least US$14,000 per hour for the use of the airplane, while the official presidential jet used by President Mills, President Mahama, sits idle, although functional.

Surprisingly, pictures taken from the interior of the new aircraft showed it has a shower, a movie room and a bedroom for President Akufo-Addo's relaxation and entertainment, while airborne.

In May 2021, Mr Okudzeto stirred controversy when he alleged the nation paid £15,000 an hour as the President opted for luxurious aircraft instead of using the Presidential jet on his travels to France, Belgium and South Africa.

The ranking member on the foreign affairs committee tells JoyNews the President is abusing his discretionary power in using the presidential jet for his foreign travels.

He filed a question, and Parliament summoned Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to answer questions on the cost and why Ghana's own presidential jet was not used.

The Minister justified the president's decision to rent the aircraft, arguing that the capacity of the presidential aircraft can no longer carry the president's entourage.

"The decision to travel particularly to long and multiple destinations such as the president travelling to France, Belgium, South Africa and back to Ghana especially during this Covid time will always require a larger capacity aircraft such as a DBKJ or an aircraft ATJ 319 even when the Falcon is air ready," the Defence Minister told Parliament on June 16.

He told the House that the Finance Minister is best to provide those details regarding the cost incurred on the trip.

Not satisfied with this answer, Mr Ablakwa filed another question to summon the Finance Minister to discuss the cost.

Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before Parliament and noted that questions on the cost and travels of the president will be best answered by the National Security Ministry.

Whilst the nation is yet to be informed of the actual cost incurred by both trips, the former Chief of Staff has suggested an alternative method that can be adopted to halt the extravagant lifestyle of leaders at the expense of taxpayers.

A worried Okudzeto Ablakwa, was on Monday forced to shout out "President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is unable to wean himself off his insatiable appetite for ultra-luxury charter jets at the expense of the struggling Ghanaian taxpayer".

"If our government is dealing directly with the operators of the LX-DIO, then it is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer at least US$14,000 per hour. However, if our government is leasing the aircraft via brokers or middlemen as it has gained notoriety in many sectors, you shouldn't be surprised that the Ghanaian taxpayer is being billed between US$18,000 and US$22,000 per hour".

The MP from the Volta Region, who has been at the forefront of similar exposés, including Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwul questioned on the renting of these expensive jets, insists MrAkufo-Addo"..,remains totally impervious to the backlash and the outcry from Ghanaians demanding that he lives up to his own pledge to protect the public purse by utilizing the presidential jet which is a far cheaper and safer option.

He revealed that "for his – President - recent travels to the UK on the 27th of July 2021 to attend the Global Education Summit and last week's state visit to Germany, he blatantly refused to travel on the presidential jet. Instead, he opted for another top of the range VIP luxury charter jet, specifically known to industry players as the Boeing 737-900ER BBJ3".

Writing on his Facebook page, the legislator revealed that "the Luxembourg-based aircraft is registered LX-DIO and operated by Global Jet Luxembourg. Its Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) is 62515 with Line Number 5659".

"The 19-seater luxury jet which has a HEX code 4D0213 is configured VIP, has 2x CFMI engines and was delivered to the current operators in November 2015".

He stated that "very few luxury jets boast of their features. Its manufacturers say the cabin is divided into multiple sections to guarantee exceptional comfort. It provides a VIP lounge for relaxation, Five-Star dining facilities, Royal Master bedroom, Cinema Room specially delineated for watching movies which is a separate accessory from other in-flight entertainment systems, and of course just as you predicted correctly, complete with a luxury shower (apparently, the sky bath continues unabated – all royalties paid to Defence Minister, Nitiwul)".

"If our government is dealing directly with the operators of the LX-DIO, then it is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer at least US$14,000 per hour. However, if our government is leasing the aircraft via brokers or middlemen as it has gained notoriety in many sectors, you shouldn't be surprised that the Ghanaian taxpayer is being billed between US$18,000 and US$22,000 per hour".

"Using the conservative rate of US$14,000 per hour, the two trips to the UK and Germany which require some 28 hours of travel distance in and out plus an additional 13 hours of pickup and drop off time, the taxpayer has been burdened again to the colossal tune of US$574,000.00. At the current exchange rate, that is a staggering 3.46 million Ghana Cedis".

Source: www.theheraldgh.com