Capital Flight? We need to look within!

By:  Ricmond Keelson

Operators of some of the world’s luxurious flights have a very powerful tool that easily cajoles top business men, the rich class and other world leaders to patronize their services. Their carefully crafted wording contains phrases like “there are lots of possible challenges you can face while trying to travel by air using a cheap airline to your favourite destination around the world”.

Some of these catchy phrases are found in the renowned American flight magazine-Topteny. Topteny reviews the ten most attractive and luxurious flights in the world.  One of such flowery-laden wooing words read thus: “These could be too much stress, almost zero special treatment, poor or low-quality amenities, and lack of comfort.”

So with some of the unimaginable-created problems, the subtly prescription without stating the obvious though is MONEY. One cannot enjoy the “danger-free” air travelling without paying huge for the services. And the well-crafted PR gimmick becomes so tempting for individuals and families with the financial muzzle to hire these luxurious flights to ensure their “safety” and comfort. Often, the super-rich from the mega Oil producing countries have been the perennial patrons of these luxurious flights.   

Rather intriguingly, some presidents, paradoxically, those from poor and developing countries fall for such sugar coasted words, without breaching the cost code. The rich  pays as much as the poor in this instance. It’s sad to relate, our own President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo has fallen bait to the PR mastery of these airlines.

But considering the economic mess that Ghana finds itself, it’s enthralling to state how our President would fall for such cheap bait than his own penchant for luxury at the expense of the suffering Ghanaian. So like the Monarch of Brunei and other Arab Kingdoms, our President is also operating like those within the Nouveau riche class.

His consummation in such opulence is sequel to similar acts by some other African Heads of State and others within their ruling class who have made travelling a luxury and not necessarily out of necessity. The very few modest ones like the former Tanzanian President, the late John Magafuli and the current Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema have demonstrated the necessities in such official travelling against the ilk of our own President who consider air-traveling as a personal aggrandizement.

These are the two of the very few African Heads of State who flew commercial flights on State visits and other state sanctioned visits abroad. They meant business and never thought of further causing economic hole to their already depleted national coffers; more so, when the thrust of most of such official travels are hinged on the revival of their economies. So why the modest ones will travel at a low cost in their efforts to seek adjustment help to their ailing economies, the bourgeoisie-likes only add up to the deepened depression in their economies.

It’s quite instructive that our President would then lead an African chorus to call on African nations to collaborate and institute stringent measures to stem the disturbing annual outflows of $88bn from the continent as reported by the Daily Graphic on January 30th, 2023. According to the Ghanaian leader, a stern attention was required to arrest the situation immediately because the phenomenon was depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used to support its development agenda.

It’s very easy to always find scape goats in our predicaments and woes; and in this case the perennial accuser as in most cases been the Western countries without considering the role being played by people like himself, some of his colleague Heads of State and their appointees. 

According to Hon. Okudjeto Ablakwa, the minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, the lowest fee within the range of $14,000 raising to $17,000 per hour. Assuming we even consider the lowest cost of $14,000 per-hour; so for a given 24-hour day, Ghana paid $336,000, culminating to close to $2.4million for the seven days that our President spent in one of his overseas travels to Germany and the United Kingdom last year.

By deduction, is the President’s expensive travelling not part of the manner we flight monies to overseas countries? How many times has it not been discovered that many African Heads of State and their cronies deposit huge sums of state funds in foreign banks? As sovereign States, how many African countries have decisively dealt with the issue of annual capital flight being perpetuated by foreign companies operating in telecommunications, mining and oil on African soil?

Indeed, Africans are themselves complicit in the annual illicit outflows from the continent because our own people including Heads of State and government official are the leading culprits. What’s even more disturbing is that we often don’t know how much money our leaders have saved in overseas banks. They die and the monies are lost totally on their countries of origin.

Ghana, for instance, yet to get answers to how much we spent on the very first luxurious flight that the President hired for his earlier travel last year. Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta whose outfit paid for the flight refused to give the exact figure. Instead, he asked Ghanaians to find those answers from the Defence Minister because the President’s traveling arrangements are borne by the Ministry of Interior.

So at it stands, Ghanaians are not likely to get the full costs of the President’s overseas travels in the first quarter of last year, except perhaps to link it with figures and the costs provided by the ranking member on Foreign Affairs relating to his later travels in the year. None from the government’s end had debunked Ablakwa’s assertions to date; so we assume it’s as true as day and night.  

Meanwhile there is a similar luxurious flight purchased by President Kufuor for the Ghanaian presidency parked at the hangar. After Kufuor, both Presidents Atta Mills and Mahama used it for their traveling. There is even the argument that if our current President does not feel comfortable travelling in the Ghana-owned flight, we could have sold it and add some funds to purchase one “befitting” a state presidential carrier.

After all, there are many, including wealthy Ghanaians who can afford for their personal use. But alas! The country’s Chief Executive seems to be enthralled by the catchy phrases of some of the adverts on these luxurious private jets, one of which reads: “Given problems like these (stress and tiredness…sic), you are likely to find it difficult getting the ultimate flight experience. There is a solution to overcoming these challenges, though, which is using the services of luxury flights for subsequent trips.”

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