He said the proposal had been completely misconstrued by Ghanaians.
The government has been accused by sections of the society, including members of the clergy who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the holy trip, of wasting money on the pilgrimage which they say is a misplaced priority.
In the wake of the unending power crisis, water rationing among other socio-economic issues confronting the country, many had suggested that the money could have been better used in solving some of the many problems.
A report by Daily Guide newspaper had put the cost of sponsoring the 200 pilgrims to Israel at $2 million, but that was disputed by the government.
According to the Youth and Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, who described the reports as “frivolous” “untrue” “sensational” and calculated at creating public disaffection towards the government, the official figure is $600, 000.
But speaking on the issue for the first time, President Mahama emphasised that the amount was not coming from government coffers.
In a meeting with members of the clergy at the Flagstaff House Tuesday, he said the sponsorship package was an offer from a purely private entity.
“This is not financed by government, it is private sector organisations that say ‘we will be able to sponsor this’, and so government is playing only a facilitative role.
“Unfortunately, the whole intent has been misunderstood and it has created some negative circumstances under which various church groups are writing and saying we don’t want to participate. We respect the various organisations but I wanted to clarify that it is not from government purse, it is from private sponsorship.”
The President told the clergy to let him know if government should go on with its organization or they should abort it.
President Mahama also took the opportunity in a closed door meeting with he pastors to explain in detail, the current crisis the country is going through especially on energy and the strikes, Joy FM’s presidential correspondent, Seth Kwame Boateng reported.
After understanding the issues at stake, the pastors are expected to in turn explain the issues to their congregation.
A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morganview all posts by: Nana Kwesi Coomson
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