Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama yesterday announced a 701 billion cedis budget to re-orient and re-equip the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to facilitate better passport control and patrol of national frontiers.
The money, which spans a three-year period, is part of efforts to review and restructure the country's border policy and regulatory apparatus to check the increasing cross-border threats and other trans-national crime including travel documents, fraud, trafficking of human beings, smuggling of migrants, narcotics and proliferation of small arms.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama announced this at the graduation ceremony of Cadet Intake IV of the GIS at Assin Fosu in the Central Region, during which 56 cadets passed out. "The imperatives of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) integration and the trends in the global security scene have compelled us to re-evaluate our border management system within the framework of national development", he said.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the international trade and tourism depended to a large extent on making border crossing as quick and efficient as possible so that investors could be confident that the borders would remain open and reasonably friendly.
He said the world was now moving towards the operationalisation of the concept of open borders, which invariably would minimise and eventually eliminate impediments at the country's borders to promote foreign trade and investments. "This will ultimately be for our advantage as a developing country that seeks to attract investors," he said.
Making reference to the September 11, 2001 terrorists attack on the US, the Vice President called on the Officers and Men of the Service to be security conscious at post.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama noted that the upsurge in global movements including refugee flows as well as cross-border violations had radically affected the manner in which governments all over the world approached border security and border management in general.
"It is in this light that the Government approved the proposal for Ghana Immigration to redefine Ghana's border enforcement system and incorporate border security, passport control and border safety with the formation of a Border Patrol Unit. He asked the GIS to strive for national coverage to facilitate the identification of illegal migrants and saboteurs.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama said the Netherlands was assisting the GIS to create a Documentation Laboratory at the Kotoka International Airport to enhance the detection capabilities of officers.
The cadets thrilled the large audience including Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister for the Interior; Mrs Elizabeth Adjei, Director of Immigration; Service Commanders and the general public to quick and slow marching drills, attracting prolonged applause. They later took the oath of office and were decorated as Assistant Superintendents of Immigration.
Under Officer Kwame Tawiah-Sarpong was adjudged the Overall Best Cadet and Best in Academics; Under Officer William Worwu Korley, took home the plaque for Best in Drills for the male category while Under Officer Vera Obeng received the prize for the Best Female in Drills. Under Officer Leslie Martin clenched the prize for the Most Discipline Cadet.