Ghanaian President John Kufuor called an emergency meeting of parliament this week after learning the finance ministry had approved $20,000 loans to each of the country's 200 MPs to purchase luxury cars, a government spokesman told CNN.

The CNN report said that the news outraged citizens of Ghana, which has a national debt of nearly $7 billion.

A report in the state-run Daily Graphic newspaper said Wednesday that Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo approved the release of $4 million last month to enable lawmakers to buy personal cars - mostly BMW's and Mercedes-Benz - according to an official list.

The CNN report says that the lawmakers, who sit for four-year terms, plan to pay back the loans through monthly deductions of 1.3 million cedis ($185) from salaries of only 1.5 million cedis ($200) a month, the paper said.

Lawyers' associations and journalist groups in the country have threatened to take to the streets if the loans are not withdrawn.

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