Rejoinder "Graft At The Ghana Consulate In New York"
The Ghana Consulate New York's attention has been drawn to an article on the front page of the Amandla newspaper vol. 16 Issue 3 dated March 15, 2017 with the headline "Graft at the Ghana Consulate in New York" and wishes to respond as follows:
a) By virtue of the Mission’s new online visa application process, isolated complaints received from some visa applicants between May and August 2016, in respect of discrepancies in the fee recorded on their receipts and accompanying visa labels, was given due attention with the commencement of an internal investigative process whereby applications for that period were ring-fenced for thorough checks;
b) Through this process, it was found that indeed there was an emerging trend of financial malfeasance. Culprits were identified and an internal disciplinary committee duly constituted in line with existing rules and regulations while the appropriate authorities in Ghana were duly notified;
c) Consequently, members of staff found culpable/complicit in the malfeasance have been sanctioned (including being surcharged with the loss of revenue).
Contrary to what the news article has sought to portray about the Consulate, there has rather been constant efforts by the Consulate to enhance customer service and in dealing with challenges. Thus, in March 2016 a new user friendly online application system was launched to streamline visa processing system and also to usher in the Biometric passport application system. The online application system besides making management of data much more efficient and allowing for a transparent audit trail in all of the Mission's consular dealings has also enabled the Mission to respond to customer service needs of applicants by way of an online/ offline chat system.
It has also for the first time allowed for an effective way to track all applications sent by mail especially using the Consulate's UPS integrated postal system. What is more, the online platform has created the necessary platform needed for the creation of a mini call center to deal with the increase in the number of telephone enquiries.
The Consulate's capacity-building mechanism also includes retraining of existing staff members and fresh recruitments of people with the requisite professional backgrounds in customer service.
The writer of the news article was invited by the Consulate for a discussion with a view to laying out the bare facts on the basis of whatever information had come to his attention. The Consulate would indeed have provided the relevant facts and clarification on the issues contained in the article had the opportunity been duly provided before going to press.
The Consulate-General of Ghana in New York, however wants to assure the General Public that it is committed to taking all measures necessary to ensure consumer satisfaction in carrying out its mandate.