Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa
The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Okudzeto Ablakwa, is appalled by the Minister of Finance’s response to questions posed to him in Parliament on the cost of the president’s foreign trips.
“It is disappointing and I am embarrassed,” he fumed and bemoaned lackadaisical approach of Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance towards Parliament.
“This is a minister who was scheduled to respond to the questions on June 17, duly advertised on provisional order paper on June16, rushes to Parliament the morning of the scheduled date and informs the House he needs more time to respond to questions,” Mr Ablakwa lamented The North Tongu MP, who is a Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, alleged that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, spent an amount of GH¢2.8 million on his recent travels to South Africa and France using services of private jet instead of presidential jet.
Answering questions on the floor of Parliament from the MP, Mr Ofori-Atta, stated that the Minister for National Security was best placed to provide the House with details of cost of the trips and insisted that cost of the president’s domestic and international travels are handled by Ministry of National Security and not his outfit.
He noted that he did not make any specific releases to the Chief of Staff for president’s trips to France, Belgium, and South Africa.
According to Mr Ablakwa, it had been a struggle to get him to come to respond but eventually came to inform Parliament to contact Minister of National Security when the questions had been admitted since June 1.
“At what point did the Minister realise he did not have the answers? He could have gotten the answers if he wanted to, you do not treat Parliament that way, not how we protect public purse, promote good governance, probity, accountability and transparency which is wrong.
“It is contemptuous of Parliament, and an insult to the citizenry so I have filed an urgent question to get the Minister of National Security to answer the questions, the Speaker was left with no choice but to accept my proposal and next step is to get the minister to come and respond to the questions.
“I am expecting the Speaker to quickly admit it so that the minister will be dragged to Parliament and hope he does not come and hide under national security to evade questions,” Mr Ablakwa postulated.
Mr Ablakwa filed a question in Parliament demanding answers from Mr Ofori-Atta about chartered flights for the president’s foreign travel after first part of his question was answered by the Minister of Defence on airworthiness of the presidential jet.He, however, threatened to initiate vote of censure against Mr Ofori-Atta“if he had failed to come to Parliament”.
Alban Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament denied any complicity in the re-scheduled question on cost of travels.