A Ghana Air Force operated plane charged nearly three times the amount that commercial operators took to evacuate Ghanaians at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic last year.
This is according to an analysis of responses filed in Parliament last week Thursday by the Minister of Foreaign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.
‘Analyst’ Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, North Tongu MP and ranking member on Foreign Affairs, noted that Ghana’s Air Force Casa aircraft charged average $940 per passenger for evacuation flights within the West and Central African region.
The amount he noted was nearly thrice, in some instances four times the charge other commercial flights that flew in nationals from Middle and Far East charged – average $396 and $269 per passenger.
“It seems to me that foreign airlines were more empathetic to the plight of stranded Ghanaians than the aircraft managed by our own government,” he noted.
He made the disclosure over the weekend via a Facebook post which also pointed out discrepancy in the amount of money purportedly spent on evacuations by the government in the last budget.
“Strangely, whereas government says it spent GH¢46,398,452 on Ghanaians from Lebanon at page 273 of the 2021 Budget, the Foreign Minister accounted for less than GH¢25million of that amount in Parliament on Thursday.
“No one knows what happened to the over GH¢21million missing as she couldn’t provide satisfactory answers to my supplementary questions despite her best efforts,” he added.
He has subsequently called for a forensic audit of government spending with respect to efforts to combat the Coronavirus.
He cited as worrying other procurement scandals like the Sputnik V vaccine purchase – now abrogated, the Frontiers Testing contract and the amount of money government claims was used to cook food for the vulnerable during 2020 lockdowns.
Read Ablakwa’s full post below:
It has emerged in Parliament following the Foreign Minister’s response to my question on cost of evacuations that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Emirates Airlines evacuated Ghanaians from the UAE and China for $396 per passenger and also airlifted our compatriots in Lebanon at $269 per person.
However, our own Casa aircraft operated by the Ghana Air Force somehow managed to evacuate Ghanaians from neighboring West and Central Africa at a staggering cost to the taxpayer of $940 per passenger.
It seems to me that foreign airlines were more empathetic to the plight of stranded Ghanaians than the aircraft managed by our own government.
Strangely, whereas government says it spent GH¢46,398,452 on Ghanaians from Lebanon at page 273 of the 2021 Budget, the Foreign Minister accounted for less than GH¢25million of that amount in Parliament on Thursday. No one knows what happened to the over GH¢21million missing as she couldn’t provide satisfactory answers to my supplementary questions despite her best efforts.
When you also consider that government claims to have spent a colossal GH¢44,460,530 which in some cases translates to as much as GH¢9,139 on the cost of quarantine for an individual, it becomes ever more imperative that a special forensic audit is commissioned on all COVID-19 related expenditure.
Obviously, the Sputnik-V scandal, the Frontiers heist; the shocking GHS54.3million for cooked food during the lockdown are not isolated cases. We need a comprehensive forensic audit NOW!