May 30, 2024

Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, MP North Tongu

• Committee Report Validates MoFA’s Subsidiary Liaison

In a startling revelation, a committee report has contradicted claims made by Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, on live TV regarding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) engagement with the Subsidiary Legislation Committees.

The Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs had accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of unjustly increasing the cost of obtaining a travel passport without consulting the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament. Ablakwa asserted on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana that the Ministry failed to adhere to the advice of the Foreign Affairs Committee to return to them before making any adjustments to the passport acquisition fees. He deemed the Ministry’s actions as unfair and unacceptable, stating that it should not have bypassed the Foreign Affairs Committee to implement such charges.

‘They came to us (Foreign Affairs Committee). It was not concluded, so, they were supposed to come back with their financials, their analysis, and all of that. While we were waiting for them to come back to us, then we heard that the ministry took it to the subsidiary legislation committee.’
In Ablakwa’s view, this amounts to sabotage, as he asserts that his committee and its members have been undermined and disadvantaged by the Ministry’s actions. “Yes, we’ve been undermined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he stated.

Contrary to Ablakwa’s claims, a report by the Foreign Affairs Committee, co-signed by the Chairman and the Head of the Governance Cluster of Committees, revealed that the Committee had advised MoFA to engage with the Subsidiary Legislation Committee for further deliberations.

“The Committee urges the Ministry to liaise with the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for further discussions on the matter and subsequent approval by the House,” stated paragraph three of appendix 12.10 of the report authored by Kwame Andy Appiah Kubi and Anita Quartey Papafio.

The report detailed MoFA’s proposal to increase passport fees by 544 percent due to financial constraints faced by the Passport Office. It highlighted the discrepancy between production costs (GH¢400 per booklet) and the current fee (GH¢100), resulting in a GH¢300 loss per booklet. The Ministry argued that this deficit hinders investments in the Passport Office, affecting service quality.

Additionally, the report compared Ghana’s passport fees to those of other West African countries, demonstrating that Ghana’s rate of US$7.76 is significantly lower than its neighbors. Cameroon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria charge higher fees for passport services.

However, Nana Akomea, representing the governing party, came to the defense of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arguing that it was unjust for his fellow panelists to criticize the ministry without evidence of wrongdoing.

Akomea contended that the Ministry had indeed presented its case before parliament. He emphasized that the Ministry’s failure to return to the Foreign Affairs Committee did not imply a lack of parliamentary approval. “Where did they go? Did they seek approval from the Council of State? They appeared before Parliament. So, I fail to comprehend the notion that they’ve smuggled something before parliament,” the Okaikwei South MP queried.

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