GHaNA is 'BROKE'

GRAND WELCOME: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and husband Prince Phillip  flank the then -president of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor  and his wife Theresa at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London.  13/03/2007. Pic. Lefteris Pitarakis.  © Getty Images.
GRAND WELCOME: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and husband Prince Phillip flank the then -president of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor and his wife Theresa at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London. 13/03/2007. Pic. Lefteris Pitarakis. © Getty Images.

ACCRA - Ghana's former government approved lavish benefits for former president John Kufuor, parliament heard on Monday, a move critics said could burden the nation's economy.

ACCRA - Ghana's former government approved lavish benefits for former president John Kufuor, parliament heard on Monday, a move critics said could burden the nation's economy.

The package, approved on the previous parliament's final day, gives each former president two houses, six cars, a tax-free payment linked to time served in office, and money for entertainment and foreign travel.

Kufour's government exceeded its forecast budget deficit almost seven-fold last year, leaving the state "broke", new President John Atta Mills' administration said at the weekend.

"If some think the figures are too high, it's up to the new president to review it," Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, parliamentary leader of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), said on Monday.

Details were not given but Kufuor and predecessor Jerry Rawlings would each be entitled to several years of their salaries.

Mills was sworn in on January 7 in a presidential vote in which the National Democratic Congress overturned the NPP's parliamentary majority.

Ghanaian workers criticised the package as unsuitable for a country burdened with public debt equivalent to more than half of its GDP, despite it being one of Africa's biggest gold and cocoa exporters. Though the country is due to start producing oil in 2010, analysts say macroeconomic fundamentals have worsened.

Credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded its outlook on Ghana last year, citing rising debt and a widening current account deficit as concerns. - Reuters

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