The Mills administration has set a new record in shameful profligacy. And for a government that has vowed to keep needless spending to the barest minimum, this is as shocking as it is disappointing.

They tell us that democracy is not cheap. We get that. But what are we to say or think when the processes involved in making the transition from the Kufuor administration to Mills administration cost the taxpayer more than 360 thousand Ghana cedis? That’s a whopping 3.6 billion old cedis!

Much of the amount was spent on hiring office equipment and paying the honoraria of members of the ‘transition team’. What is most shocking, at least to me, is that more than a third of the 3.6 billion (that comes to about 1.3 billion old cedis) was spent, on what we like call ‘item 13’ – refreshments, pastries, water, tea and expensive lunch packs.

Considering our dire economic circumstances and the government’s own pledge to avoid “profligate” expenditure, this is more than absurd.

In fact, the total amount spent on the whole transition programme – as short and one-sided as it was – should justifiably raise some eyebrows!

First of all, why on earth will government with all its bureaucracies go around hiring office equipment? There are fax machines and photocopiers and a lot of stationery at the Castle and in several other government agencies. Couldn’t some of these have been temporarily brought in for the transition team to use? Why go and hire when you already have the items in abundance?

Secondly, the fact that members of the transition team took so much in honoraria leaves me wondering if any of them can get on radio to talk about patriotism and selflessness. These are men and women who are relatively well-off. What on earth does PV Obeng need our 2000 dollars for? Couldn’t he have worked for the government for free for just a few weeks? Your party has won power and you have the privilege of helping to ensure a smooth transition – after which you may even get to work in government. It shouldn’t be so difficult for you to forego honorarium, should it?

Thirdly, and this is the most irksome of all, it’s just inconceivable that a transition process as short as it was cost the taxpayer 1.3 billion cedis on refreshments alone! That is worth more than the contract for which Steven Asamoah-Boateng is being pursued by the BNI. That can build school blocks for hundreds of school children who study under trees.

If officials of the Kufuor administration had actively participated in the transition process, the money on refreshment (and the entire transition) could have been more. Can you imagine that? It makes you want to say “thank you” to them for boycotting the transition, doesn’t it?

And what at all did they eat and drink over the two-month period that cost us so much? Certainly not ‘konkonte’ and ‘tuo zaafi’. They didn’t drink ‘pito’. And I am sure there was no ‘kooko’ and ‘bofrote’. But there were a lot of Chinese cuisine, scented tea and a wide assortment of exotic fruit juices. The transition team really had a good time.

No wonder, they were complaining that the transition period was too short. And, indeed, it was. So there are moves to make sure that future transition arrangements last longer. Can you imagine how much they will spend on pastries if the transition processes had starts in late November or mid-December? God save us!

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