The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has told Parliament that the “best place” to furnish the House with details on the cost of the President’s recent official travels outside the country is the office of National Security.
He said due to the national security implications, the air travel for the President, including the cost for the advance team, flight arrangements, security, accommodation, and air tickets, are coordinated operationally between the Office of Government Machinery and National Security Secretariat.
He said in line with the 2021 budget implementation instructions, the Ministry did not release any funds to the Chief of Staff specifically for the President’s recent trips to France, Belgium and South Africa.
According to him, the current practice is that the Ministry released quarterly funds to the heads of department including the Office of Government Machinery for all the operational activities of the Office.
“To facilitate the safe coordination of the President’s travels, domestic and foreign, the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security Secretariat work together to achieve this,” he stated.
Answering a question on the floor of the House Wednesday, Mr Ofori-Atta said, “Mr Speaker, the Presidents’ domestic and international travels are matters to do with National Security.
“The National Security Minister is best placed to furnish this Honorable House with the details needed,” he stated.
He was responding to an urgent question filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
Responding, the Minister of Finance told the House that when the ministry gave its quarterly releases for goods and services, it did not include line items for the President’s travels.
“And so, we will not have those specific costs coming through the GIFMIS system. As I mentioned, with the operational work that is done between the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security services, those categorizations are not very clear to us because of the national security implication,” he said.
Responding to the cost of air travel of the President using chartered flights between the period of 2013 and 2016, Mr Ofori-Atta said the Office of Government Machinery and the National Security were in the best position to provide such details.