National Security Minister, Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah has indicated that he’s unable to disclose the cost of the President’s travels for security reasons.
Appearing on the floor of Parliament on Friday, Mr. Kan-Dapaah explained that the funding for the President’s travel is sourced from the coffers of the national security, and such estimates are not meant for public consumption.
“Recent official travels to France, Belgium and South Africa by His Excellency the President, are paid for out of the official funds of the Ministry of National Security. Mr. Speaker, payments out of the Ministry’s operational funds are [treated] with confidentiality and state secrecy, and it is not the general practice in the intelligence community, here and elsewhere to make the suggested disclosures public”, Mr. Kan-Dapaah explained.
Reacting to the explanations by the Minister, Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa said the arguments by Mr. Kan-Dapaah are untenable. According to him, there are no laws that bar the Minister from disclosing the cost of the President’s travels.
Citing the practice in other jurisdictions like the United States of America, Mr. Ablakwa emphasised that, the cost of presidential travels are not closely guarded secrets in the intelligence community as the Minister stated.
In his view, it is necessary to disclose the cost as a way of promoting accountability. He therefore does not agree with the explanations from the National Security Minister.
“Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary question relates to the assertion by the honourable Minister that the general practice in the intelligence community is not to disclose the cost of presidential travels. But I will contend that, that is not the case. I hold in my hands, Mr. Speaker, a report from the congressional research office dated May 17, 2012, which is a report produced quiet regularly by the US congress, and it details Mr. Speaker, the cost of the presidential travels of the United State’s President. It’s titled: ‘Presidential travel policy and cost’. And in this report, Mr. Speaker, we are told that it cost $206,000 United States Dollar per hour for presidential travels in the United States of America”.
Mr. Ablakwa also mentioned from his records that, the UK royal family spends about £4, 800 pounds per hour for travels, and therefore “how does the honourable Minister reconcile? In other jurisdictions, they have moved to greater transparency and these matters are known by members of the House of Commons or members of Congress and citizens generally. So why is it that we are departing from this practice and the honourable Minister says that it cannot be disclosed?”, he asked.