July 22, 2011

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Atwima-Mponua Isaac Asiamah has reiterated the Minority’s argument that they are not in principle opposed to the acquisition of five new jet to retool the Ghana Armed Force.

The NPP MPs, he said, were only making sure they live up to their constitutional duty of protecting the public purse and ensuring that the country gets value for money in the deal.

Parliament on Wednesday approved loan agreements for the purchase of five military jet despite objections from the Minority that one of the jet, Embraer E 190, was simply too expensive – $105,370, 177.09 (with a hanger). They argued the nation could not use such a huge amount to buy one jet when there were pressing social needs confronting its citizens.

“If you look at the figures that have been churned out, clearly, we are not comfortable with some of the figures. So we are concerned about making sure that, there is first of all, economic efficiency and indeed value for money. That is all that we are concerned about.”

He said the Minority also suspected that the government had “inflated” the price of the jet and its accoutrement, adding that checks done by them revealed that the jet alone should have cost the nation about $32m – as the base price -, but the government brought a whooping figure of $55.26.

He explained that the heated debate in Parliament leading to the approval of the purchase agreements of the five jet was “to expose the hypocrisy and the double standards of the NDC,” adding that a critical looking at the deal shows “it is a little bit murky and fishy…we are concerned about allegation of inflated prices.”

The five jet would include an Embraer E 190 jet with a hanger costing $105,370, 177.09, two BA 42 Guardian Surveillance costing €11 million and another two CT95 aircraft costing €60 million. But the MP for Atwima-Mponua said the figures being paraded about by the government were “outrageous”.

According to Mr Asiamah, there was the need for the government to give answers to some specific questions to clear the doubts and minds of the Minority and Ghanaians in general.

He questioned the claim by the ruling National Democratic Congress that it is a social democratic party, wondering why in the midst of limited healthcare and educational facilities among others, it would prioritise the purchase of an “entertainment” jet.

“They say extra fuel tank: $8million, air stair-1million: 70 dollars. Flight entertainment, and I am shocked, social democrats, I would have expected them to be a little bit more prudent in the way they spend public money. So social democrats are today telling Ghanaians that they are spending a whopping sum of 14 billion old Ghana cedis on entertainment in a flight?” he added.

But the MP for Sene, Felix Twumasi Appiah said it was important the nation equipped the armed forces, noting that “technically” Ghana does not have armed forces because the country’s military equipment are not up to the standard to be called armed forces.

He said Ghana needs three brigades but currently has only two – one each in Teshie and Kumasi – explaining that it was because they don’t have enough personnel.

“When they came to Parliament this year, they said [military] strength is 78% of the required strength,” he said, adding that the five jet were not sufficient. “If you think security is expensive, try insecurity for once.”

He said out of the four K8 helicopters bought by the Kufuor government, only one is in good state and functioning – one got burnt in Cote d’Ivoire during a peacekeeping operation, the other got burnt at Atiwa in the Eastern Region carrying the remains of a retired general and the other one cannot fly.

Lawyer and Editor of Ghanaian Observer, Egbert Faibille said despite the need for the Armed Forces to be equipped, the jet are costly and are too many.

Source: Myjoyonline.