Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says the Akufo-Addo-led government has totally failed in its much-touted promise to protect the public purse.
He said under the current administration, the country has sunk very low when it comes to transparency and accountability.
Reacting to the Finance Minister’s answer to an urgent question he filed in June to know the costs of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s travels, Mr Okudzzeto Ablakwa wondered when Kenneth Ofori-Atta got to know that he did not have the required information about the travel costs.
Mr Ofori-Atta had told Parliament on Wednesday, July 21 that as per the 2021 budget implementation instructions, no funds were released to the Office of Government Machinery (OGM) for such purposes.
In filing his urgent question, which was admitted by the Speaker of Parliament on Tuesday, June 1, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is also the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, said a total of GH¢2.8 million was used for the entire three-nation trip of President Akufo-Addo in May.
He said £15,000 was paid to UK-based Acropolis Aviation for the trip to France, Belgium and South Africa when the presidential jet was in good condition.
“Let us imagine what GHS2.8million could do for our country, particularly considering the mess in multiple sectors which has led to legitimate #FixTheCountryNow agitations by the youth,” he had stated.
After several weeks of preparation, Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament that the National Security Minister is best-placed to answer the question on the travel costs.
“Mr Speaker, the President’s domestic and international travels are matters to do with National Security. The National Security Minister is best placed to furnish this Honourable House with the details needed,” he said.
But speaking to journalists after this answer, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP said there are a lot of questions to answer by government.
“It’s most shameful. It is totally unacceptable and we must be embarrassed about how low we have sunk when it comes to transparency, when it comes to accountability and when it comes to protecting the public purse,” the former Deputy Education Minister said.
“If President Akufo-Addo’s administration assured the people of this country that they will protect the public purse, from what is going on it is clear that now we cannot even find the purse at all and there is a conscious effort to conceal and to cover up anytime that you demand legitimate answers.”
He wondered why the Minister was consistently requesting more time when he knew he was not responsible to provide the answer.
“When did the Hon Finance Minister know that the cost of this profligate, extravagant and vicious travel is not known to him? At what point did he come to that realisation? Since the 1st of June that the Rt Hon Speaker admitted this question under Order 66, the Finance Minister has consistently been requesting for more time.”
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa served notice that an urgent question will be filed to enjoin the National Security Minister to appear before plenary to give the answer.
Already, the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has given an account of his side.