Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa
November 25, 2021

Minority’s Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said the advice by the Chairman of the Committee Bryan Acheampong for the National Security Minister not to come to the House to respond to the travel expenses of the president is an affront to the House and undermines the authority of the Rt. Hon Speaker.

According to him, it is totally unconscionable and unpardonable to have a presidential jet in good condition but the president is renting expensive charted aircraft.

He quoted Order 66 (1) to back his point, which states that; “Mr. Speaker shall be the sole judge of the admissibility of a question”. So no member of parliament or other person than the Speaker of Parliament admits a question and the question in issue relates to the president’s travels to Belgium, France and South Africa.

He asserts that it does not lie in the mouth of the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee to advice the Minister,  who only last week was expected to respond to that question as programmed in the order paper, but he had to send a letter to parliament that he has had to travel and would be looking at another  time to come and respond. “At no point in time did the sector minister say the information on the president’s travel has been classified as being a top secret.

He noted that at a time that this government has submitted a budget and is asking the people of this country who are under hardship and suffering, the government is demanding taxes from an already burdened Ghanaian people.

“Would you believe it that at this time, same government is demanding more taxes, this same government is refusing to be accountable to the people, how can you be demanding more taxes from the Ghanaian  people and refusing to account to the people” he queried.

According to Mr. Ablakwa, the Minority does not see any national security consideration in this matter; the Speaker did not see any issue of national security which should prevent the minster from responding to the question, and in every democracy the cost of travel of the president is known to the people, he added.

“You just google the cost of travel of USA presidents and you would see the cost per hour, it is about two hundred and six thousand dollars, and that of the royal family of the United Kingdom, you would see it rated at about five thousand pound an hour. The German Chancellor and French president, it is known by the citizens of those countries and even us who do not live in those jurisdictions and tax payers there”.

And further revealed that the Minority would not support the 2022 budget because of lack of accountability, transparency which has even been captured in the Auditor General’s report.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com