No new licences will be issued for the operation of private security organisations until further notice, the Ministry of the Interior has announced.
The ministry is also working with National Security to prepare a comprehensive list of all registered private security organisations with the view to blacklisting those that are inactive and ensuring that the active ones operate in line with the law.
The measures are part of steps by the ministry to check the proliferation of private security agencies.
The Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Nana Obiri Boahen, who made this known to the Daily Graphic yesterday, said the ministry was deeply worried about the proliferation of private security companies in the country.
"We are taking adequate steps to weed out a lot of them to stem the tide of proliferation. We are going to put in place stringent measures and at the end of the day a lot of them will die a natural death," he promised.
Last week, the Association of Private Security Organisations of Ghana (APSOG) expressed concern over the proliferation of private security companies in the country and some other developments in the industry which it considered detrimental to national security.
Responding to some of the issues raised by APSOG, Nana Boahen said the ministry was equally worried about the mushrooming of private security companies, hence the decision last September to impose an embargo on the granting of licences to new companies.
He said before the embargo was put in place, the ministry 'had been inundated with applications for the establishment of private security companies.
Nana Boahen could not readily give the exact number of registered private security companies but he indicated that considering the size of Ghana, there should not be more than 100 companies in operation.
According to APSOG, there were more than 350 private security organisations in the country, many of whom, it alleged, did not have licences and offices to operate.
Nana Boahen said as part of the measures to streamline the industry, the ministry would request private security companies to furnish it with their addresses and returns on tax payments; social security contributions and compliance with other statutory obligations.
He said the measures were not meant to discourage Ghanaians from establishing private security companies but rather to ensure that the rules and regulations governing the industry were upheld.
On concerns raised about the infiltration of foreigners into the industry, the Minister of State said that should be a source of worry to all Ghanaians.
He was, however, quick to add that there could be some foreigners who had naturalised and so it would be wrong to create the impression that there were foreigners operating in the industry.
With respect to allegations that some politicians were involved in the private security business and the fear that such a development would undermine national security, Nana Boahen dismissed the claims as lacking substance.
He said the ministry was not interested in the political background of owners of private security companies but just wanted to see companies which operated according to the rules of the business.
“We should not stretch it too far. We should start from the premise of whether or not the private security company is viable, was set up with ulterior motives, honours its tax obligations and others. If the answers are yes, what is wrong if a Minister of Defence or the President sets up a private security company?" he asked.
Asked whether the ministry would give private security companies any role to play with respect to providing security in the electioneering, Nana Boahen responded emphatically, "No!"
He said the ministry would rely on public security agencies, such as the police, the Prisons Service and the military, for that purpose because private security companies, as their name implied, were private entities.