July 20, 2011

The Majority in Parliament has mounted a vehement defence of the purchase of five aircraft for the country’s military and the presidency.

According to them, the time is ripe and with a booming enough economy for the country, Ghana can afford to purchase the aircraft.

The Minister of Defence upon recommendation by the military is seeking approval from Parliament for the purchase of five military aircraft.

The fleet 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.

The request has provoked an intense debate on the floor of Parliament, Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Sammy Darko has reported.

The Minority is questioning not the propriety of the purchases but the honesty of the majority in proceeding with the purchase of five jets when only a few years ago they were against the purchase of two.

In opposition and in the run-up to the 2008 general elections, the then NDC Minority, had questioned the propriety of the purchases of the jets.

They accused then President John Kufuor of engaging in profligate expenses at a time when the country was sweltering under poverty, with workers crying for increases in salaries.

During his first State of the Nation address to Parliament, President John Mills announced he would reconsider the purchase of the aircraft proposed by his predecessor.

On the Floor of Parliament on Wednesday, the Minority led by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu quoted religiously from parliamentary records of 2008 in which the then Minority mounted a crusade against the purchase of two military aircraft.

They cited comments made by Benjamin Kumbour, E.T. Mensah and others on the floor, all of whom believed buying two military aircraft at the time was an imprudent and insensitive choice against the plight of ordinary Ghanaians.

The Minority therefore questioned their colleagues on the other side if the time is now ripe for five aircraft to be purchased.

The response from the Majority was definite. Now is the time to change the fleet of the military’s aging aircraft.

Alfred Agbeshi, MP for Ashaiman insisted the economy is better now and could absorb investment into five aircraft.

He and his colleagues argued the military needed the fleet to be able to carry out their statutory mandate.

But the MP for Atwima Mponua, Isaac Asiamah also believes the prices for the aircraft have been inflated.

According to him, his research shows that the prices of the aircraft are far lower than what has been brought before Parliament for approval.

Source: Myjoyonline.com