Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa Writes

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I couldn’t agree more with the revered and celebrated Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference following their timely appeal to the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to “present a posture that is consistent with the fact that the country is in dire straits or crisis” and their further demand for “drastic government expenditure control.”

Expenditure documents from the Presidency between January and September 2022 which I am currently reviewing firmly justify the call from the venerable Bishops — a plea, which to be honest, many others within civil society organizations, the NDC Caucus in Parliament and former President John Mahama have been ingeminating.

Readers beware, a summary of the presidential expenditure items listed below are most gut-wrenching:

1) The President’s “operational enhancement expenditure” (whatever that animal is) cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a mind-boggling GHS59.4million (59,486,108.91);

2) The fuel bills paid at the presidency within the 9-month period under review cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a colossal GHS51.1million. (51,109,137.86). Empirical analysis conducted reveals that government failed abysmally in its promise to slash fuel expenditure by 50%;

3) President Akufo-Addo’s regional tours last year cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a staggering GHS16.9million (16,906,272.45);

4) Tyres and Batteries for official vehicles cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer an unbelievable GHS15million (15,000,000.00);

5) The last Cabinet Retreat cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a whopping GHS4.8million (4,800,000.00);

6) Payment for new vehicles cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer GHS6.5million (6,500,000.00) — this is particularly distressing considering Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta’s announcement of a ban on imported official vehicles in March last year;

7) Payment for Networking and ICT Equipment cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer an impressive GHS6.6million (6,600,000.00);

8)An additional expenditure on Office Equipment/Furniture and Fittings cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a fantastic GHS7.07million (7,070,315.28);

9) Telecommunications and Internet Services from January to September alone cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a shocking GHS20million (20,000,000.00);

10) Vice President Alhaji Bawumia appears determined not to be left out. His office has on three occasions between January and September 2022 demanded what is simply described in the expenditure documents as release of funds for “URGENT AND OTHER EMERGENCIES ACTIVITIES” (wondering why emergencies and not emergency, and most importantly what exactly those emergencies and urgent matters were?). For the period under consideration and from GIFMIS Code 2210909 — a whopping GHS4.05million (4,050,227.18) of taxpayer funds from suffering Ghanaians was cumulatively released for the Vice President’s “emergency activities.”

Quite obviously, the Ghana Fire Service, NADMO and the National Ambulance Service would wish they were as resourced for real emergencies as the Vice President’s office is.

In the true spirit of transparency and accountability, I expect the Vice President’s office to immediately clarify to the Ghanaian people what those emergency expenditures are. I sincerely do hope that we aren’t witnessing blatant abuse of incumbency where our taxes are being funneled into the Vice President’s presidential campaign under the dubious claim of emergency activities.

Moving forward, the NDC Caucus in Parliament shall be paying keener attention to these strange expenditure patterns both in the President’s office and the Vice President’s office.

Instructively, the 10-item expenditure summary above which amounts to a massive GHS191,522,061.68 represents a tiny sample selection from more than 250 expenditure items contained in the Expenditure Documents currently under parliamentary scrutiny.

The Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta government must definitely listen to the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and indeed all Ghanaians by sincerely departing from the obscene profligacy, particularly at the ostentatious Presidency where we will expect true burden sharing and frugal leadership by example at this time of government-inflicted economic crisis.

For God and Country.

Ghana First.

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