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Cost of presidential travels national security issue – Minister tells Parliament

The Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, has told Parliament that presidential travels are national security issues which cannot be made public.

He explained that the cost of the presidential air travels was covered by the operational funds of the National Security and were clothed with rules of confidentiality and state secrecy.

According to him, it was not the general practice in the intelligence community everywhere to make such disclosures public.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament yesterday, Mr Kan-Dapaah, therefore, urged Parliament to bear with his inability to make any disclosures on the cost of presidential travels for reason of national security considerations.

He was responding to questions filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa East, Mr Paul Apreku Twum-Barimah, and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

Mr Twum-Barimah wanted to know the cost of air travel of former President John Mahama, using chartered flights between the period 2013 to 2016, while Mr Ablakwa sought to know how much the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s recent official travels to France, Belgium and South Africa in May this year cost the Ghanaian taxpayer.

Responding, the minister said President Akufo-Addo’s recent official travels to France, Belgium and South Africa in May 2021 were paid for out of the operational funds of the Ministry of National Security.

“Mr Speaker, payments out of the ministry’s operational funds are clothed with rules of confidentiality and state secrecy and it is not the general practice in the intelligence community everywhere to make the suggested disclosures public,” he said.

Unhappy with the answer provided by the minister, Mr Ablakwa contended it was not the case that the general practice in the intelligence community was for non-disclosure of cost associated with presidential travels.

He produced a report, titled “Presidential travels, policy and cost” detailing the cost of the presidential travels of the US President by a specialist at the American National Government which stated that it cost $206,000 per hour for presidential travels in the US.

He also cited another report from the United Kingdom House of Commons which also detailed the cost per hour of the UK Royal Family which was about £4,800.

Challenging the position by the minister to refuse the disclosure of presidential travels, the NDC MP for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, cited Article 135 of the Constitution, which stipulates that “The Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether an official document shall not be produced in court because its production or the disclosure of its contents will be prejudicial to the security of the State or will be injurious to the public interest”.

He, therefore, challenged if the minister could show any other law in the National Security Act that empowered him to refuse an official document on the grounds that it was injurious to the state.

But the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, who was presiding, declined the question.

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