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23.05.2006 General News

Presidential jet trade-in is fair deal - Bartels

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Accra, May 23, GNA - Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Information and National Orientation, on Tuesday hinted of a possible prosecution of Mr Richard Kwame Peprah, a former Finance Minister, under the Government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), for the role he played in the acquisition of the Gulf Stream GIII presidential jet, which has been at the centre of controversy since 1999.

"I will not rule out the possibility of bringing another lawsuit against Mr Peprah. Justice will be done one day," he said, when answering questions on the trade-in of the aircraft for four Chinese fighter jets and a flight simulator at a Castle Press briefing.

Mr Bartels described the deal clinched by the Ghana Air Force to trade in the Gulf Stream for four K8 military aircraft and a K8 flight simulator from the National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, as a fair deal.

The five million dollars offered for the aircraft by the Chinese, which would be used as deposit for the four military aircrafts and flight simulator, he said, was accepted by the Air Force based on the advice of their consultants.

The Information and National Orientation Minister denied rumours that a fee of one million dollars was paid for the valuation of the GIII saying, "this is not true".

Asked why the deal was not sent to Parliament, Mr Bartels said the Military was using its approved investment budget for it and that when it became necessary to seek additional funding from Government, they would do just that by going to Parliament.

He stated that the Ghana Air Force was in control of the negotiations.

To another question as to why the Government refused a purchase offer of seven million dollars from the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in 2001, he said HSBC served as vehicle through which the aircraft was sold to Ghana at 16 million dollars.

For that very bank to turn round a year later and offer seven or nine million dollars for the same aircraft amounted to cheating and that was totally unacceptable.

The NDC government used the United Nations Peace Keeping Fund for Ghanaian contingents on peace keeping missions to guarantee and pay for the lease agreement between it and Gallen Limited, the former owners of the Gulf Stream.

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