Ghana bans first class travel for public officials

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama arrives for a meeting with France's President at the Elysee Palace in Paris

G​hanaian government on Tuesday announced ban on public officials from first class air travel.

The government said that the measure was part of renewed efforts to cut wasteful spending as the country began the implementation of an International Monetary Fund aid deal.

Communications Minister Edward Boamah, who announced this in Accra, said the presidency issued the directive, asking all ministers and other top officials to avoid unwarranted foreign trips on the public purse.

According to Mr. Boamah, inappropriate spending would likely be a top campaign issue as Ghana is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2016.

The opposition in the country had accused government officials of inflating contract sums.

Ghana, a major producer of cocoa, gold and oil, began a three-year program with the International Monetary Fund in April to fix its economy, which has been dogged by high deficits, a widening public debt and unstable local currency.

Finance Minister Seth Terkper told Reuters on Tuesday the cabinet is also discussing a financial accountability bill which would impose penalties such as dismissal or jail time for public officials who are found to violate it.

“It is expected to be clear enough to enable the general public to see malfeasance if there is any and hold the agency involved accountable,” he said.