Parliament calls for urgent facelift for missions abroad
Parliament has expressed dissatisfaction with the poor state of facilities of Ghana’s missions abroad and called for urgent replacement and repairs of the facilities.
It recommended the re-construction, renovation and outright purchase of properties and facilities for use by the country’s missions abroad to enhance the image of the country in the comity of nations.
Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Parliament discovered the state of the country’s foreign missions when they visited some of the missions in Europe, Asia, America and Africa as part of their oversight functions.
Countries visited included United States of America, France, Spain, Belgium, South Korea, China, Nigeria and Kenya.
The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, presented the report of the committee on the state of Ghana’s missions abroad in Parliament last Tuesday, and the House consequently adopted the report.
Ghana has a total of 62 missions with some of the missions having concurrent accreditation to other international bodies.
In areas where there are no missions, they said the country employed the services of Honorary Consuls.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the committee found out that most of the missions’ properties and facilities were in deplorable state and needed urgent replacement and repairs.
“The committee believes the re-construction, renovation and outright purchase of properties and facilities for use of Ghana’s missions abroad will go a long way to enhance the image of the country”, he said.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed the committee that it contracted a $50 million loan in 2016 to carry out renovation works on a number of missions.
He, therefore, recommended to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fast-track the procurement processes for the release of funds from the loan facility to enable works to begin on the facilities that had been selected for the project.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the committee realised that some of the missions visited such as Beijing, Seoul and New York did not benefit from the loan facility although they were found to be in deplorable state.
“The committee recommends that the ministry should, as a matter of urgency, procure the needed funding to enable works to commence in these missions”, he said.
He further suggested that a line budget should be provided in the annual budget estimate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for incremental repair works in all missions.
Touching on visa and passport issuance, Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the committee discovered that busy missions such as Paris did not have the capacity to issue passports and visas on their own.
He said the committee, therefore, recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should take steps to establish fully fledged passport and visa issuance processing centres at missions with high number of applications.
In his contribution, the Minority Leader and National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale South, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said all of Ghana’s missions abroad had challenges with their facilities and utilities.
He, therefore, stressed the need for the government to allocate funds to cater for the facilities and utilities of the country’s foreign missions.
Supporting the calls, the NPP MP for Kpandai and First Deputy Majority Whip, Mr Mathew Nyindam, said: “the buildings that they (Ghana’s missions abroad) occupy are nothing to write home about”
He said the poor state of facilities of the country’s foreign missions created a bad impression about Ghana since they represented the country abroad.