Parliament approves € 574.7 million for Foreign Ministry
Parliament on Friday approved the sum of GH ¢ 574.7 million for the implementation of the programs and activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for the fiscal year 2022.
The breakdown of the total amount, 480,187,000 GH ¢ would be spent on compensation of employees, 76,103,000 GH ¢ on goods and services, while 18,447,000 GH ¢ would be spent on capital expenditure (Capex).
The motion to approve the budget was presented by Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Mr Bryan Acheampong, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, said the committee had been informed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration would soon start issuing biometric chip passports.
He said the ministry has offered to undertake this project because of the security concerns it is currently facing with the issuance of biometric passports.
“The ministry believes that smart passports will provide maximum security and ensure that only qualified people hold Ghanaian passports,” he said.
“It will also bring our passport system in line with the best international standards. “
He said the Committee had been informed that the project would be executed in partnership with a private company within 10 years and that the total cost of deploying the project for the first year was $ 23 million.
Acheampong said that the Accra International Conference Center (AICC), built in 1991 to host the 10th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, had developed critical structural flaws over the years.
He said that various experts had been hired to undertake an in-depth study of the structural integrity of the building in order for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to make a decision on whether or not to repair the building.
He said based on information received from engineers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration decided to rebuild the AICC at a cost of € 116,384,500 with a cedi equivalent of GH ¢ 814,691,500.
Mr. Acheampong said that a feasibility study carried out on the structure showed that the reconstruction of the AICC would be economically and technically viable if the ministry was able to operate the reconstructed infrastructure at the stated cost.
He said the ministry would also reach projected revenue levels through effective management of the facility within 22 years.
Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, member of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, said that the attention of the committee was drawn to an expenditure of GH ¢ 65.7 million made on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Regional integration on page 273 of the Budget and Economic Policy statement for fiscal year 2021.
He noted that the committee had recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration contact the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Finance for further clarification on the matter and details of expenditures made on its behalf.
Ms. Abena Osei Asare, Deputy Minister of Finance, explained to the House that the funds were spent on the evacuation of returnees from Lebanon and other activities on the basis of a budget submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Finance.
“Mr. Speaker, this is money that went straight to various places like hotels and airlines as well; so they didn’t have the budget under them so the finance ministry had to pay for us to fix the covid-19 pandemic issues we needed to fix. “
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu congratulated Ms Ayorkor Botchwey for her role in ensuring that Ghana is elected to the United Nations Security Council for two years (January 2022 to December 2023).
He urged the Foreign Ministry to ensure that Ghana acquires permanent office and residential facilities for its missions, in order to avoid high rental costs.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey assured the House that by carrying out the AICC project, value for money would be achieved.
She informed the Chamber that with the judgment of the Oslo District Court, Ghana has been fully acquitted and the court costs have been awarded to the nation.
Ghana had wanted to secure a property to use as a chancellery in Oslo, Norway, but the government subsequently refused to do so, leading the owner to file a lawsuit against the country.