The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament has expressed concern over the number of legal suits instituted against Ghana as a result of the inability of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to meet the rent obligations of the country's missions abroad.
The committee, presenting its report on the 2009 annual budget estimates of the ministry, stated that the inability to meet the rent obligations was as a result of shortfalls in budgetary allocations to Foreign Affairs Ministry.
In its report, the committee recommended to the House the approval of GH¢73,108,535 for the ministry, and the House subsequently approved the amount.
The committee said, although the country had won the admiration of the international community because of her democratic credentials, it could not attain its rightful place in the comity of nations if it continued to embarrass its diplomats.
"The committee, therefore, wishes to strongly recommend to government to consider establishing a Cabinet Subcommittee to holistically review the financing of Ghanaian Foreign Missions so as to enhance their capacity and to enable them tap the full benefit accruing to us as a result of our democratic and good governance efforts," the report said.
The committee said in order to address the shortfall, the ministry must be well resourced to give a lift to the country's image and urged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to work in that regard in its supplementary budget.
The House also approved budget estimates for the National Labour Commission and the Ministry of Roads and Highways. For the Ministry of Roads and Highways, the House approved an amount of GH¢263,087,821 while an amount of GH¢416, 401 was approved for the National Labour Commission.
In its report, the Committee on Roads and Transport recognised the need to adjust the road toll and the fuel levy upwards since their current levels were low to increase revenue generation for the maintenance of roads.
It urged the ministry to expedite action on the computerisation of all the toll points and commence the building of plazas at these places to provide security and ensure effective monitoring.
It urged the National Road Safety Commission to come out with programmes on road safety education on radio to sensitise the general public and called for an increase in the budgetary allocation to the commission.
For its part, the Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises noted that for the year 2009, the National Labour Commission intended to place more emphasis on one of its core functions of promoting effective cooperation between labour and management.
The committee stated that in its quest to prevent and resolve industrial disputes, the commission had planned to establish three regional offices in Tema, Takoradi and Kumasi.
It however, expressed regret that no provision had been made in the 2009 budget to realise that noble objective, stressing that "industrial disputes, if not well resolved at the initial stages could degenerate into serious labour crisis and scare away investors.”