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General News Wed, 21 Jan 1998

Minority Leader Defends Stand On Presidential Jet

Accra (Greater Accra) -- Mr. J.H. Mensah, Minority Leader, said today a new presidential jet aimed at projecting "a prestigious image of Ghana will send the wrong signals to the international donor community."

"The people to whom the president is going to beg for support, the same people who make the aircraft and from whom we are going to borrow money to buy the aircraft, are not in the least impressed that he should arrive in a gleaming new jet and pretend to be the sultan of brunei when they know for a fact that Ghana's treasury is empty."

Mr. Mensah was speaking at a press conference to react to comments against statement he made late year about the council of state's call for a new presidential jet to replace the fokker 28 that has been in use for the past 19 years.

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"I have faced a torrent of abuse and irrational arguments since reacting to the statement from the council of state but nobody has answered three questions I posed then". The minority leader said he wondered why the advice of the council on the issue of a jet was made public when all its advice are tendered in secret? To President Rawlings He said: "If you persist in buying this new toy at public expense, the reaction of the people of Ghana will take you by surprise, and will be bad for all of us so, forget it".

Mr. Mensah said if President Rawlings "listens to such advisors he will only make a mockery of the whole nation". He said a publication from Dr. Robert Dodoo in the daily graphic of January seven expressing the support of civil servants for a new presidential jet smacked of " a shoddy level of professional work at the top of our civil service." "..... We know that many of the best civil servants thoroughly disapprove of the poor sense of National priorities that it portrays". On the issue of the government allocating a 60-million cedis Toyota Landcruiser to him as minority leader, Mr. Mensah said Nana Ato Dadzie, acting chief of staff at the presidency, informed him that he was entitled to a cross-country vehicle and a saloon car.

"I opted for the Landcruiser first and the saloon car is yet to be delivered. "I did not request for these vehicles but these go with my office since my status is equivalent to that of a minister," The Minority Leader said.

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