The ‘expensive’ casket carrying carrying President Mills
The John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government says it spent over GH¢3.6million just to bury the late President, John Evans Atta Mills.
Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Chairman of Mills’ Funeral Planning Committee (FPC), made this revelation at a press briefing in Accra yesterday and added that the amount was even too small considering the high status of the funeral.
It was however believed that the FPC indeed spent far more than the amount mentioned and there were also calls for a revelation on how much of the taxpayer’s money was spent in the various regional and district funerals held for the late president.
According to the FPC, the GH¢3.6million was used to pay for the hospitality bills of the Heads of State and foreign delegations, printing of books of tributes, order of service and pictorial book on the late president, site preparation and cost of the casket.
The books were printed in Dubai, sidestepping local printers and publishers. The books were brought into the country through a chartered Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai.
The casket alone, according to the Committee, cost an amount of GH¢4,660.
The FPC said other expenditure went into painting, cost of repairs at the Independent Square and State House, the construction of special dais at the Independent Square, hiring of chairs and canopies, feeding, honorarium to performing artistes, floral and funeral services.
Mr. Totobi Quakyi said out of the GH¢3.6 million spent to bury the late president, government contributed an amount of GH¢1.4million (¢14billion) and the remaining GH¢2.2million were donations from individuals and institutions.
He said the detailed income and expenditure would be subjected to audit as was required under the country’s financial regulations.
Mr. Totobi Quakyi noted that none of the FPC members received sitting allowances or any pay for the job done. “This was purely voluntary work in the service of Ghana,” he added.
Touching on the Asomdwe Memorial Park which was closed to the general public on August 20, 2012, for completion of work, he said, “It is expected to be re-opened to the general public in the middle of October this year.”
He said the Committee had also informed the State about a request from the family of the late president in Ekumfi to hold the 40 days customary celebration on 20th September, adding that “a national thanksgiving service to round off the funeral celebrations has also been proposed to government by the committee”.
Mr. Totobi Quakyi said the committee had recommended to the government, the provision of disability access to the Banquet Hall and all public buildings should be expedited.
This, he said, was due to the fact that the committee was not happy to see physically challenged persons who came to the Banquet Hall to pay their last respects being lifted in wheelchairs or carried up the stairs on the back of some security personnel who were in attendance.
Mr. Totobi Quakyi said, “The Committee was tasked with the funeral and burial of our late president and as far as we are concerned our job is done.”
Therefore, he said, the Committee ceased to operate and all residual matters should be referred to the office of the Chief of Staff at the Castle.