JET CONTRACT STINKS
NPP takes Mills to the cleaners over aircraft deal
Linda Akrasi Kotey
The Minority in Parliament has taken the government to the cleaners over what they claim was the inflated cost of the five aircraft the Mills administration has contracted to buy for the Ghana Armed Forces. In their opinion the deal stinks.
At a press conference at Parliament House yesterday, the Minority, mainly made up of members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), called for due diligence and a value for money audit in the purchase of the Embraer 190 and a hanger, and four other aircraft meant to augment the fleet of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
Such an action, the Minority said, would save the state millions of dollars and serve the best interest of the Ghana Armed forces. The Minority group said the deal that the government was embarking on stinks, because the cost had been over-priced and inflated.
Addressing the media at Parliament House yesterday, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Okaikoi South, Nana Akomea, said the Minority insists that the Embraer 190 is basically a commercial airline which the government was getting configurated into a presidential jet.
“We insist the Embraer is to serve the same purpose as the Airbus 319 ER, which is the original recommendation of the GAF in 2008 to serve as the main presidential jet.”
Nana Akomeah, who is the Communications Director of the NPP, said because the NDC opposed the acquisition of the Airbus 319 in 2008, they are now in government, and are finding difficulty in justifying the purchase of another aircraft for the same purpose, as recommended by the GAF.
He said the argument that the Embraear 190 would serve as a strategic airlift aircraft for troops was false, because the Embraear is a 100-seater plane, which, according to United Nations standards, is not suitable for the lifting of troops.
“This claim of military use for the Embraer 190 is, therefore, an attempt to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians.”
The Okaikoi South Legislator explained that based on the basic price of $32 million, a price tag of $88 million means the government of Ghana ordered for extra configuration that cost the Ghanaian taxpayer an additional $56 million.
He told the media that even if one accepts the government’s basic price of $55.2 million, the additions ordered by the government cost the taxpayer an extra $33 million. These additions include nearly $1 million for flight entertainment in the 1st class compartment.
According to the Communications Director, the Minority was convinced that the additions and extra costs for the Embraear 190 were excessive for a poor country like Ghana, where millions of people still lacked basic needs like food, water, electricity and shelter.
He maintained that the government was being hypocritical, because in 2008, when the NPP government brought loan agreements to Parliament to solicit the agreement of the House to buy two aircraft at a total cost of $105 million, the NDC in Parliament objected to the deal.
At the time in 2008, the NDC said: “It is premature for us to buy these aircraft.”
According to Nana Akomea, Mr. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, then Minority Leader, said it was important that Parliament did not commit this country “when people were thirsty, hungry, where we are HIPC, and poor.”
“To paraphrase Hon. Bagbin, today, we say to government, do not commit this country to buy aircraft at such high cost, which use is not certain, and which cost is not certain. For we are still thirsty, we are still hungry, and we are still poor.”
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