I Don’t Have Answer To Presidential Trips – Ofori-Atta
Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta says the National Security Minister is the best-placed person to furnish the House with the details of the cost of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s foreign travels.
He said the President’s domestic and international travels were matters of National Security.
Mr. Ofori-Atta made the statement when he appeared before the House to respond to an urgent question by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu,
Mr. Ablakwa wanted to know how much the President’s recent official travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa in May cost the Ghanaian taxpayer.
Mr. Ofori-Atta explained that the current practice was that the Ministry of Finance released quarterly funds to the Heads of Department, in this case, Office of Government Machinery, Chief of Staff for all operational activities of the office.
He said the office of Government Machinery and the National Security Secretariat work together to facilitate the safe coordination of the President’s travels for both domestic and foreign.
He indicated that in line with the 2021 budget implementation instruction, the Ministry of Finance did not release any funds to the Chief of Staff, specifically for the President’s trip to France, Belgium, and South Africa.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ofori-Atta responded to a question by Paul Apreku Twum-Barimah, MP for Dormaa East on the cost of air travel of the President using chartered flights between the period 2013 to 2016.
According to the Finance Minister, the air travel of the President including the cost for advance team, flight arrangements, security, accommodation, and air tickets are coordinated operationally between the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security Secretariat.
“Mr. Speaker, as I indicate in my response to the question from Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa indicated that the air travel of the President including the cost for advance team, flight arrangements, security, accommodation, and air tickets are coordinated operationally between the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security Secretariat,” he added.
He maintained that the Presidents’ domestic and international travels were matters of National Security, saying the National Security Minister was the best-placed person to furnish the House with the details needed.
In a related development, Cassel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on Finance, at a press briefing in Parliament House, expressed disappointment at the Finance Minister’s response to Ablakwa’s question on the President’s travels, saying it is shocking and unacceptable to the people’s representatives.
He said the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), 2016, Act 921(5) clothes the Minister of Finance with every responsibility and power for use of all public funds for any covered entity, including the Office of the Chief of Staff and the National Security Secretariat.
He said for the Finance Minister to appear before Parliament and referred the matter to the National Security and Chief of Staff they found it unacceptable.
“We urged our minister to come back to revisit the powers he has because he is the supervising minister for all financial matters in this country,” he said.
Deputy Majority Leader, Alex Afenyo Markin, in reaction to the minority’s press conference on the Presidents’ travels, stated that the Minister of Finance when he appeared before the House took his time to explain in detail how such expenditures are carried out.
He said the Minister explained that there was general release in terms of funds to the Office of Government Machinery, which include the Office of the President and Vice President among others.
He said Minister also clarified to Parliament that there was a coordination between the Chief of Staff and the National Security Secretariat and that the issue of Presidential travels was under that scope and that the National Security Minister is best placed to give the specific details.