Ghana’s President John Mahama has banned public officials from first class air travel in a renewed effort to cut wasteful spending.

The ban has come into effect as the country implements an IMF aid deal to revive state finances, the government said on Tuesday.

Ghana is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next year and, with the opposition accusing government ministers of inflating contract sums, inappropriate spending will be a top campaign issue.

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The presidency issued the directive this week asking all ministers and other top officials to avoid “unwarranted” foreign trips on the public purse, Communications Minister Edward Omane Boamah told media.

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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.

The country’s economy has been dogged by high deficits, a widening public debt and unstable local currency.

Finance Minister Seth Terkper told media on Tuesday the cabinet is also discussing a financial accountability bill .

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The schedule 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 added.

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