But Begs Constituents Over Poor Roads & Lack of Streetlights
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Adenta, who doubles as the Director of Communications for the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has jumped to the defence of President Akufo-Addo for spending almost GH¢180 million on foreign trips and other things in nine months.
Part of the amount, was also blown on hotel accommodation, telecommunications, refreshments, official National Celebrations, rental of office space and residential accommodation, fuel and lubricant from January 2019 to September 2019.
Interestingly, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, who has been begging his constituents in Adenta to be patient with the Akufo-Addo government over its inability to construct new roads and also rehabilitate existing, but deplorable ones in his urban Constituency, stated that, the travels were necessary for the country’s development.
Interestingly, most streetlights in Mr Buabeng Asamoah’s Constituency, have gone off for many months with no hope in sight, as to when they will be fixed.
His comments come on the back of demands by the minority in parliament, asking the Foreign Affairs Ministry to come and explain why such an amount was spent on the president’s travel when it goes beyond what was budgeted for the year.
The issue of expenditure came up when parliament was going through the 2020 Budget allocation for approval and went through a document that gives a breakdown of what was spent in 2019.
A vaguely defined “Operational Enhancement Expenses” recorded the highest expenditure of GH¢68.9 million next to Foreign Travel Cost and Expenses in the nine months was GH¢62.5 million.
Interestingly, over GH¢5.9 million, was blown on maintenance and repairs of vehicles from January 2019 to September 2019, while over GH¢4.8 million was spent on fuel and lubricant for the same vehicles for the nine months period.
Quite shockingly, the Vice President’s Office, also spentGH¢1.285 million on maintenance and repairs of vehicles, and spent about over GH¢290,000 on fuel and lubricants for the nine months.
The colossal expenditure of nearly 180 million Ghana Cedis, covered both the Office of President Akufo-Addo and that of Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, according to documents presented to Parliament as part of budget estimates for the office of government machinery.
The President, specifically spent in excess of GH¢168 million – specifically GH¢168, 908,262.73 – while the Vice President spent less than GH¢9 million – specifically GH¢8, 139,531.28.
It is not clear, what accounted for the huge discrepancy in the President’s figures to that of the Vice President in the nine months period.
Other breakdowns were that 5.8 million Ghana cedis was spent on hotel accommodation and 1.9 million Ghana cedis on refreshments by the President’s office.
Over GH¢1.6 million was blown on printed materials and stationary, over GH¢ 6.5 million on office facilities and accessories and over GH¢ 1.8 million telecommunications from January 2019 to September 2019.
The office of the President, the document said, also supported some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with over 7.2 million from January 2019 to September 2019.
Rental of Office and residential accommodation, recorded a little over GH¢900,000, while Official National Celebrations recorded a little over GH¢520,000 from January 2019 to September 2019, with refreshment costing nearly 2 million Ghana cedis.
Dr. Bawumia’s office per the record, spent almost GH¢89,000 on printed material and stationary, GH¢152,061.89 on Office facilities and accessories from January 2019 to September 2019.
Just like the office of the President, the Office of the Vice President, also had “Operational Enhancement Expenses” which got allotted over GH¢1.8 million to spend. It spent over GHȻ1. 9 million on refreshment with overGHȻ 2. 5 million blown on hotel accommodations for the nine months.
Contributing to the issue on news analysis programme The Key Points on TV3, Mr Buabeng Asamoah, said the president embarked on the travels on behalf of the country, and that the money spent should not be in contention, since the value will inure to the country’s benefit.
“That the records are there to show is important, accountability; that these expenses are not hidden from the public is important so then, the question is, once they are out there, are they even justified?…and I will say, an absolute yes.
“Yes, to the extent that the president has a duty to perform.”
“It all impacts on growth,” the NPP Director of Communications said on Saturday.
Addressing issues on the large entourage embarking on trips with the president which increases expenditure, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, said the president always travels with a team from Ghana, which is key to whatever mission the president is on in other countries.
“…he will go with that relevant ministers to deal with sectorial issues he is going to attend to…,” Mr Asamoah explained.
He advised the minority to wait for clarifications from government on the matter, instead of drawing conclusions and pointing accusing fingers at government.
“I think we should look at rigorous explanations, rather than an assumption that something has gone dramatically wrong.”
Taking a bite of the expenditure issue on The Key Points, MP for North Tongu, Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the minority is worried about the lavish manner in which government spends the tax payers money.
“What we are really worried about as a minority are a number of issues, first, the prioritization. We are increasingly concerned that president Akufo-Addo and his government seem to believe in extravagance…”
He said there are priority areas like the construction of road networks, infrastructure at schools and healthcare facilities that these funds are needed for, instead of overspending on such travels.
The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, had in Parliament last week said the extravagant expenditure cannot be justified.
He charged “This is something we do not have to encourage. I strongly believe that the time has come for Ghanaians to demand accountability from the office of the President in terms of the expenditure that goes on. Within the last nine month, it will surprise you to know that we were told that the President had spent 63 million Ghana cedis alone on foreign travels”.
He went on to say that “in fact, it will surprise you to know that apart from the foreign travel cost, he spent 5.8 million Ghana cedis on local accommodation which is in excess of 1 million dollars. Again, the operational enhancement support expenses, he spent 68.9 million Ghana cedis. What sort of operational expense is this? Is he buying a new plane from 62.5 million cedis. Refreshment, partying, tea 1.980 almost 2 million Ghana cedis on refreshment”, adding “the Vice President’s office is similar. We need to demand accountability.”