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Battling a pandemic, Senegal splashes millions on new presidential jet

Battling a pandemic, Senegal splashes millions on new presidential jet
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People in Senegal have criticized as 'wasteful' the purchase of a new jet for President Macky Sall.

Bowing to pressure, finance and budget Minister Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo told parliament last week that the Airbus A320 neo would cost tax payers some $110 million.

The West African country is expected to take delivery of the aircraft in July.

The government spokesman has defended the expenditure as necessary to replace the aging A319 which went into service in 2011.

After two decades of operation, the presidential aircraft, named Pointe Sarène, “has become obsolete…requiring frequent and expensive technical visits, and consequently long periods of immobilization,” said Oumar Guèye in a statement.

Authorities had resisted calls to disclose the jet's cost citing ‘security reasons'.

Senegal is in the middle of an economic and social crisis made worse by the coronavirus pandemic and anger against President Macky Sall's rule has been growing in recent years.

According to the World Bank, between 2014 and 2018, the country recorded economic growth of more than 6% per year.

In 2020, growth dropped to an estimated 0.7% affecting services, tourism, transport and exports in the country of 16 million people.

The subject has been widely debated on social media in Senegal with many people saying the government should prioritize hospitals and schools over the President’s comfort.

The Airbus A230neo has a length of 37.6m, span 35.8m with a tail height of 11.8m, and has a capacity of 146 seats if purposed to carry passengers.

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