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18.08.2004 Business & Finance

Govt to investigate Ghanair $162m debt

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The government is to conduct thorough investigations into the over $162 million debt accrued by the ailing national airline, Ghana Airways, before any payments will be made to its creditors.

"We need not rush into paying the debt; we need to investigate it to satisfy ourselves that the debt is genuine before spending the tax payer's money to settle it", the Finance and

Economic Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, said this at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

He pointed out that where there are doubts about any expenditures, "the necessary queries would be raised".

Meanwhile, the government has taken over the entire debt of the airline to enable it to strike a deal with a strategic partner.

The government last week intervened in the problems affecting the airline, dissolved its board for the fourth time and appointed a four-member task force to run it until the deal with the strategic partner was finalised.

The decision came at the peak of a series of incidents which left many passengers of the airline stranded in Accra, Baltimore in the United States of America (USA), London in Britain and Dusseldorf in Germany and led to the withdrawal of the licence of the airline to fly to the USA.

On the Metro Mass Transport,he said the Cabinet had approved the take-over of the former OmniBus Service Authority (OSA) by the Metro Mass Transit Company. "We are now detailing out the take-over of assets and pay about ¢7.35 billion of accumulated salaries for OSA workers," he added.

He said the government had also placed an order for another 150 Tata buses from India to augment the current fleet.

Osafo-Maafo said these are intended to make the transportation system in the country more effective and efficient and to reduce the burden and hustle of commuters.

He further announced that the ICT policy of the country had been approved by the Cabinet.

The minister said Ghana's policy had been adjudged as one of the best in the world and indicated that although Ghana was behind, frantic efforts were being made for it to catch up with other countries.