It is no longer news that President Nana Akufo-Addo’s trip to the United States to give his first ever address at the United Nations had been recklessly extravagant with an outrageous entourage of 196 people, mostly party apparatchiks, tagging along.
In the wake of the wicked indulgence, Ghanaians have been left to count the cost and social media has since been awash with the calculations helped by revelations from both government sources and Ghanaians living in the US.
The cost has been adding up, but, at the last count, the trip had cost the tax payer at least, some Ghc5.8 million or 58billion old cedis. A breakdown of cost incurred over hotel accommodation and transportation rentals alone mounted up to $1,322,869.25.
Ghana cedi equivalent of $1,322,869.25 is Ghc5, 837, 361.00 (almost 5.9million Ghana cedis or 59billion old cedis).
Available breakdown includes $1, 172, 869.25 or Ghc5,174,887.94 on hotel accommodation and $150,000 or Ghc661,869.13 on automobile rentals.
This is not inclusive of per diem that the government paid all the members of the entourage which included non-government actors like Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, cousin of the President and Capt. Edmund Kojo Koda, head of Nana Akufo-Addo’s personal security, when the President was only a flag bearer in 2016.
On the trip to the UN, Akufo-Addo had taken along 196 people, excluding his wife, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and himself.
The 196 included 18 government ministers, 24 chiefs mostly from the Eastern Region, 30 media men and women including Citi FM’s CEO, Samuel Atta Mensah, 10 security personnel and 114 members of the ruling party, NPP, none of whom are said to have returned.
While in the States, the NPP government is said to have rented 30 new vans for the Ghanaian delegation. Videos of the vans, including Benzes fit for Rock stars, are still rotating on social media.
At $1,000 per day for each, the 30 vans cost $30,000 to hire, and since the delegation had spent a total of five days in the States, the total cost incurred over the rental of the vans amounted to $150, 000. The Ghana cedi equivalent of $150,000 is Ghc661, 869.13. (Over 6.6billion old cedis).
The 196 members in the entourage of the President allegedly slept in two different hotels – 87 at the Mandarin Oriental, in New York, where a room costs $ 1, 145.77 per night. For breakdown, it is $1145.77 × 87 which equals $ 99, 681.99 per night for the 87. Multiplied by five days, the cost comes up to $498, 409.95.
The other 109 members of the entourage were said to have been hosted in the Four Seasons Hotel, New York, where a room costs $1,237.54 per night.
At the going rate, the math therefore is $ 1,237.54 multiplied by 109, which is equal to $ 134,891.86 per night for the 109. Multiplied by five days, the amount comes up to $674,459. 30
For grand total on accommodation, the calculation is $674, 459.30 plus $498, 409.95 which is equal to $1,172,869.25. $1,172,869.25 for accommodation plus $150,000 on automobile rentals sums up to $1,322,869.25.
The Ghana cedi equivalent of $1,322,869.25 is Ghc5,836,828.00 (over 58 billion old cedis).
It is worth noting that this conservative estimate of what President Akufo-Addo and the NPP government splurged on the trip to the US is not inclusive of per diem that was paid to all members of the entourage on the trip.
In July, this year, the chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kofi Portuphy, revealed that President Akufo-Addo takes between $4,000 and $5,000 as per diem per trip and that members of his entourage receive some $2,000 per trip.
The government’s lavish spending is coming at a time that Ghana’s debt is shooting through the roof, amidst warnings by the International Monetary Fund that debt sustainability is getting out of hand.
At the last update by the Bank of Ghana, Ghana’s public debt had risen from Ghc122 billion in January 2017 to Ghc139billion. International rating agency, Fitch, has since served notice it will downgrade Ghana due to poor fiscal management.
But the lavish lifestyle of President Akufo-Addo and his government seems to be an addiction that goes beyond the President.
In June, this year, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia had traveled to China with an entourage of 161, mostly made up of party supporters.
On the trip, members of the entourage were said to have been paid per diem from polythene bags while still on the plane. They had mostly also been hosted in the expensive five-star Beijing Hilton hotel.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels