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General News
Confusion on 3bn UK trip : Mills: total bill Is on british govt Ayarigah: part is on british govt 5/9/2009

Yesterday, President JEA Mills accused The Statesman of "distorting” the facts on who is footing the bill for his UK tour, which is now estimated at nearly £200,000.00. But, it appears the President may be the one ''distorting'' the facts.
The President and his entourage, which is now officially put at 29, is in the United Kingdom for a 3-day official visit, which ends today. However, the team, including NDC Chairman Kwabena Adjei, is spending an extra two days in the UK to return to Accra Sunday.
The extra two-night sleep in the world"s most expensive city, we estimate, would cost an additional £91,000 - ie GH¢195,000.00 or 1.9 billion (old) cedis.
Our diplomatic sources say those extra days will be at the cost of the Ghanaian taxpayer. A very senior international diplomat told The Statesman, normally once official visits end any extra days a government delegation chooses to spend are at its own cost.
Speaking on various Ghanaian radio stations yesterday morning, Presidential Spokesperson Mahama Ayariga said the British government was only catering for 10 members of the Mills entourage, which he put at 27, after putting it at 25 the previous day.
He told Citi FM “The president and his wife and ten members of his delegation are being treated for free of charge by the British Government.
Everything here that the President consumes, his accommodation, his everything is being catered for free of charge… If you look at the delegation, you will find out that the main government officials are not even up to ten”, he said. But speaking to Joy FM’s Israel Laryea in London afterwards, President Mills said, “We are here as guests of the British government so everything is being provided for by the British government – accommodation and all.”
President Mills described the story as malicious and unfair, adding that the rationale behind the story was to tarnish his image.
He retorted that he would not have a problem with any newspaper that publishes the truth “but in the case of The Statesman, it distorted the truth, which wouldn’t help anybody.”
He added, ”We are here as the guests of the British Government, so everything is being provided by the British Government, the accommodation and all.
For people to give the impression that one has come from Ghana and has chosen where to live and is spending the scarce resources of Ghana, is most unfortunate,” he stated.
It took the extra prodding from the Joy correspondent for President Mills to admit, “Well, yes we have a part of the cost but it’s not the same as it’s being said.”
President Mills went with 5 security men, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 people from Asempa FM, Joy FM, and Adom FM (all from Multimedia broadcasting), 3 from GTV, and others. Also on the London trip is NDC Chairman Kwabena Adjei, who is not part of the official delegation but attends every programme.
Mr Ayariga said of the entourage yesterday, “We are talking about the Secretary to the President, you are talking about four other ministers of state, namely, the Foreign Affairs Minister [Mohammed Mumuni], the Trade & Industries Minister [Hannah Tetteh], the Finance Minister [Kwabena Dufuor] and the Deputy Minister for Energy [Kwabena Donkor]”.
Other members of the delegation include the Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Segbefia, Director of Communications at the Castle Koku Anyidohu, Ambassador Victor Gbeho, and Victor Smith, presidential aide in charge of protocol and Larry Gbevlo-Lartey’s deputy at the National Security, Mr Danquah.
Our checks indicate there are more people in the entourage than the officially announced figure, which according to the list provided to the journalists with the President yesterday, is now put at 29. Yesterday on a live BBC interview, President Mills exposed his weaknesses on continental issues with responses such as “We would decide when we cross there” on West African integration.
As Commander-in-Chief, he could not tell the world why Ghana was not committing extra troops to the Horn of Africa because he was yet to consult his army chiefs, he said. He did not know much about the oil discovery to say much about it, he said.
But he had a lot to say about seized vehicles and government bungalows.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Foreign Secretary David Miliband both finished their official business with Ghana’s Head of State on Tuesday.
Yesterday, President Mills addressed the prestigious think tank, Chatham House, in an eighteen-minute speech, which was unusually made without reading.
Observers said he spoke well but lacked colour. Also addressing the audience at St James’s Square yesterday was Ken Ofori-Atta, the Executive Chairman of Databank.
There was later an opening forum at the Marriott Hotel, London.

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