Gov't Secures $10 Million For Immigration Service
5/18/2012 4:33:14 PM -
THE MINISTER of Interior, William Kwasi Aboah has announced that government has secured $10 million from the World Bank for the E-Immigration project which will enable the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to automate major entry points and serve as a link to its headquarters.
He explained that government was aware of the service's lack of logistics and financial constraints, including acute shortage of offices and residential accommodation, vehicles, weapons for the Border Patrol Unit and communication equipment.
The minister, speaking at a brief ceremony to formally introduced himself to the GIS in Accra, he indicated that the service had become more important with the country's development into an oil economy, hence the need to put proper measures in place to equip the security services.
Mr. Aboah hinted government was committed to equipping GIS and other security services in the country to enable them perform efficiently.
According to him, the GIS headquarters lacked proper security measures therefore visitors entered the place without reference to security guide lines. 'Traders flood the yard and go around the offices to sell their wares, officers are seen in the yard openly transacting business with applicants, and visitors allowed to roam about in the yard after closing time,' he added.
He said that GIS remained the sole institution in the country with the statutory mandate under the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573) to regulate and monitor the entry, residence, employment and the exit of foreigners in the country.
He disclosed that in the last few months, the ministry had received reports of illegal immigrants in the small scale mining sector which was raising serious security and environmental issues.
'The mandate of the service was clear, and I wish to caution officers who indulge in excessive fraternization with foreigners, as well as choose to work as agents for them in the procurement of permits for pecuniary gains that the practice was very unprofessional and also against the law,' he noted.
He cautioned that personnel of the service who thought that working in the immigration service was an avenue for becoming rich overnight to either change that negative perception or plan their early exit quietly on their own before they are ousted.
Mr. Aboah stated that its four-year strategic plan which was launched in September 2011 was quite impressive. 'I have read the document and appreciate the efforts you are making as an institution to address the challenges of the service.
'We have been reliably informed that some foreigners who have granted permits to reside and invest in this country are surreptitiously prying in political activities contrary to the conditions of the permits,' he added.
'No country will accept such behavior of foreigners in the area of her political activities, and Ghana is no exception. Any foreigner found indulging in such perfidious intrigues should be arrested to face the full rigors of the law,' he warned.
Mr. Aboah observed that GIS was among Regional and District Security Councils whose mandate included educating party leaders and supporters, as well as members of the public on what should be done to maintain law and order before, during and after this year's general elections.
COP Dr Peter A Wiredu, Acting Director of GIS, in a remark, commended the minister on his new appointment and indicated that the pioneering role Mr. Aboah played in the institutional growth and development of GIS during his 4-year term was enormous.
He further explained that the service faced a huge deficit in acquiring offices and residential accommodation for the rank and file. Statistically, less than 10 percent of the total staff was provided with accommodation facilities, mostly from private rented premises across the country.
Dr Wiredu said due to budgetary constraints, the service was unable to settle its huge outstanding rent bills. Officers and men of the service who rent houses on their own did not enjoy any rent subsidies, noting that the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) package had not made provision for payment of rent allowances.
As a result of inadequate budgetary allocations, the service has over the years been unable to provide uniforms and other accoutrements for officers and men.
'Individual officers and men have to resort to the purchase of uniform materials and other accessories on their own,' he said.
By Portia Anaman