Three days after the 2009 budget was presented to Parliament, with a promise to cut down on government spending, National Democratic Congress (NDC) appointees and officials went on a spending spree with the State picking the bills.
About 20 leading members of the NDC including the Minister of Youth and Sports, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, were said to have been flown out in a chartered flight last Sunday for the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, to witness the local Black Stars' final match with their Congolese counterparts in the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Some of the personalities on the trip were Alex Segbefia, Deputy Chief of Staff; P.V. Obeng, Chairman of the dissolved Government Transition team; Koku Anyidoho, Communication Director at the Presidency; and Dr. Omane Boamah, a deputy Minister designate for Environment, Science and Technology and a leading member of the Kwesi Pratt-led Committee for Joint Action (CJA) who constantly picketed official profligacy.
Dr Boamah is yet to be vetted by the parliamentary Appointments Committee. Also on the trip were Ade Coker, a former Deputy Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, who was banned from holding any position in the FA; Kojo Bonsu, who failed to get the nod for the Sports Ministry job; Jones Abu Alhassan, a member of the GFA Executive Council and Kofi Manu, an Accra representative of Ashgold Football Club.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the Mills boys jetted out with the aim of bringing the trophy to the country with a possible intention of playing politics with it.
The Black Stars had earlier beaten the Leopards of DR Congo 3-0 in the Group Stages, fuelling hopes that they would crush the Congolese in the finals, but were rather beaten in what has been described as a revenge.
Their foreign travel, coupled with the large entourage, appeared to be at variance with President John Evans Atta Mills' pledge that his government would reduce its spending drastically this year in a bid to reduce the high fiscal deficit.
Even though statutory allocations to MDAs were drastically cut to save money for the state, allocations for the Presidency strangely increased to about 163 percent, fuelling speculations that the increase was for such trips.
The per diems, hotel and air fares had been described as 'double-tongued' considering the position of President Mills on government expenditure.
Government plans to reduce the fiscal or budget deficit from 14.9 percent to 9.4 percent by the end of the year. It had therefore decided to implement cost-saving measures including savings from foreign travels, workshops and conferences of all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) which the budget says would save the nation GH¢70 million.
However, DAILY GUIDE sources say the large contingent to the Ivorian capital betrayed President Mills' quest to reduce waste in the system. The trip, which caused the nation several thousands of Ghana Cedis, has been described by some analysts as unnecessary.
What this means is that the nation could accumulate unnecessary debt from trips which would eventually make government's quest to reduce the fiscal deficit a herculean task.
The Black Satellites had in February won the African Youth Championship hosted by Rwanda and the NDC had planned to use the Black Stars feat and the afore-mentioned exploit of the national under-20 team to score cheap political points.
By Charles Nixon-Yeboah