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23.05.2006 General News

Minority demands full disclosure of Gulfstream jet trade-in

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Accra, May 23, GNA - The Minority in Parliament on Tuesday called for an immediate submission of the agreement on the disposal of the Gulfstream Jet purchased under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to Parliament.

"If government fails to heed this call, we would take all legitimate action to get to the bottom of this matter," Mr Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader told the Parliamentary Press Corps.

At a press conference to air their views on the trade-in deal of the jet by government, he said; "we wish to register our shock at the unconstitutional, wrongful and secretive nature of the transaction." Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Information and National Orientation, had announced that the Gulfstream Jet had been traded for four K8 Chinese made trainer/light attack aircraft and a flight stimulator.

Mr Bagbin asked; "What is the transaction cost of the acquisition of the Chinese military jets. Are they brand new or used? Our preliminary enquiries have put the sales price of a brand new K8 trainer/light attack military jet at 20 million US dollars." He said it means therefore that the four jets, if brand new together with the flight stimulator should have a combined value of more than 80 million dollars.

The Minority Leader said it was unthinkable for government to enter such agreement without Parliament's approval.

"We refuse to accept the statement by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Kwamena Bartels that the absolute ceiling for any airworthy G3 Jet flying today was set at 6.5 million dollars by consultants."

Mr Bagbin said; "Just yesterday, browsing the net (Internet), we have found an airworthy G3 with serial number 477 selling at 7.6 million dollars. This G3 is older and was manufactured earlier than the Ghana G3, which has a serial number of 493."

The Minority took exception to the statement allegedly made by Mr Bartels that he believed that the aircraft was meant to be part of ex-President Rawlings' end-of-service benefit.

"We find this statement by high ranking public officer of the status of Mr Bartels, who is in-charge of providing the public with accurate information on government policy as unfortunate and unacceptable."

Mr Bagbin said; "Nowhere in the retirement terms of the ex-President was there provision for an aircraft. In any case as at the end of 2000, lease payment for the aircraft were still ongoing. How could government have given such an aircraft to the ex-President when it had not finished paying for it."

He said "the Information Ministry was far different from the Private Sector Ministry ... it is our hope that Mr Bartels does not intend to turn the Ministry into goebellian propaganda unit spewing and peddling rumour as being suggested by the public and the media."