Parliament has expressed concern over the deplorable conditions of Ghana’s Missions, properties and facilities abroad, and called for urgent replacement and repairs.
According to the legislators, the re-construction, renovation and outright purchase of properties and facilities for use by Ghana Missions abroad would go a long way to enhance the image of the country in the comity of nations.
Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, presenting the committee’s report on the floor of Parliament, urged government to as matter of urgency, obtain the needed funding to enable work to commence on the Missions.
The government in 2016 secured a loan facility of $50million from Societe General to rehabilitate and reconstruct some of the Missions and also acquire additional properties. The loan was approved by parliament in 2016 and works were expected to commence in 2017. The loan was to be applied to 33 selected Missions.
Most of the properties acquired to house these Missions since independence have not seen any significant renovation whiles others have become unfit for use.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh also called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fast track the procurement processes for the disbursement of the loan to enable work to commence on the properties that had been selected for the project.
He said the committee recommended that a line budget should be provided in the Annual Budget Estimate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for repair works in all the Missions.
He said to ensure effective oversight of the Mission’s activities, the Committee on Foreign Affairs should be encouraged to undertake future oversight visits to the Missions that were not visited.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit a comprehensive report on the state of Ghana’s Missions to the Committee on Foreign Affairs every year for the attention of Parliament.
He cited for example that busy Missions such as Paris, which do not have the capacity to issue passports and Visas on their own.
He therefore suggested that the Ministry takes steps to establish a fully-fledged passport and visa issuance processing centres with capacity to print and issue passports and visas in Missions with high numbers of applications.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh further noted that a number of Ghana Missions are housed in rented properties with high payment cost and as such the embassies find it difficult to meet their annual rental obligations to their landlords.
He called on the Ministry to take steps to procure permanent offices and residential accommodation for Missions that operate from rented properties by outright purchase or through a mortgage arrangement.
He also called for additional funding for Missions not covered under the $50million Societe General loan facility.
He said the committee’s visit to Missions such as Beijing, Seoul and New York reported that these embassies would not benefit from the facility though they were found to be in deplorable conditions.