Ghana is spending a total of ¢16 million on each of the 13,087 Ghanaian and foreign prisoners languishing in all prisons accross the country this year, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwamena Bartels, informed Parliament yesterday.
The number of prisoners include 713 foreign nationals on whom a total of ¢11.4 billion is being spent for this year alone.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, the population of foreign national prisoners in our prisons is 713 and it is estimated that ¢16 million would be spent on each prisoner this year,” he said.
Mr Bartels explained that the calculation was based on the total expenditure of the Prisons Service to care for prisoners.
The minister also explained that the Prisons Service existed because of the prisoners and that every pesewa spent on the operations of the service, including salaries for prison officers, running cost of vehicles and ration, was part of the cost of maintenance of a prisoner.
He told Parliament in an answer to a question posed by the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Mr Charles Hodogbey, that in the year 2006, ¢10.4 million was spent on each prisoner, including foreign prisoners.
The MP had enquired from the Minister the total number of foreign nationals serving jail terms in Ghanaian prisons and how much was spent on each per year.
According to Mr Bartels, the foreign prisoners were from Africa, Europe, Far East and North and South America. In another development, the MP for Pru, Mr Baba Abdul-Rahman, asked the Minister when his ministry would provide a vehicle and communication equipment for the Police Station at Yeji, the District Capital of Pru.
Replying, Mr Bartels said a concessionary line of credit had been signed between the Government of Ghana and the Exim Bank of India for the supply of 221 Tata vehicles to the security agencies, including the police.
He said the Ministry had so far taken delivery of 173 vehicles and distributed them to the agencies, including the police.
The Minister said the last consignment of 48 vehicles were expected by the middle of next month out of which the Ghana Police Service would be allocated 19.
“The Yeji Police Station would be considered alongside other deprived police stations in the country,” he said.
He added that Parliament recently approved a loan of $26 million for the acquisition of vehicles and other equipment for the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Prison Service.
Mr Bartels said the first consignment of 169 vehicles from Paramount Logistics would arrive early next year and Yeji would be one of the stations to be considered.
Touching on the issue of communication, Mr Bartels said the government had identified that the best way to handle the situation was to look at the problem holistically, stressing that a Chinese Company had been contracted to provide communication network code named “THE GOTA” for all security agencies in the country.
“ The first phase, which is confined to Accra and its environs, has just begun and would be extended to all the regional capitals early next year.
This would be followed by the third phase, which would be the extension of the facility to the district capitals and Yeji would definitely benefit,” the Minister said.
The MP for Nkwanta South, Mr Gershon Gbediame, also wanted to know from the Minister when a fire engine would be supplied to the Nkwanta District fire station.
Responding, Mr Bartels pointed out that the Ministry had recognised the need to strengthen the capacity of the Ghana National Fire Service to combat fire outbreaks throughout the country and had for that reason entered into negotiation with the ECOWAS Bank for Development for a loan of $24.7 million to procure new fire engines for distribution.
“ The Nkwanta Fire Station and other deprived areas would be considered,” the Minister said.
Story by Kweku Tsen& Emmanuel Adu-Gyamera