|Audio Attachment:The Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., lashes out at both the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs over their inability to resolve a protracted dispute, regarding the issuance of the biometric passports in the country, which now needs the intervention of the President, Prof John Evans Atta Mills.|
A leading member of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), Kwesi Pratt Jnr., has lashed out at both the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, over their inability to resolve a protracted dispute, regarding the issuance of the biometric passports in the country, which now needs the intervention of the President, Prof John Evans Atta Mills.
Media reports of the imbroglio between the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Passport Office over which of the two institutions has the mandate to issue biometric passports in the country caused some consternation among a section of the general public, with some even describing it as officially pettiness.
The dispute, according to reports, threatens to delay Ghana’s migration from manual passports to use of biometric ones by April this year. The issue is currently at the Presidency, as earlier attempts to settle it by stakeholders both at the ministerial and National Security levels failed.
Commenting on the issue in a panel discussion on PEACEFM’s “Kokrokoo”, Mr. Pratt expressed his disappointment at the turn of events and tongue-lashed the two sector Ministers for failing to resolve what he calls a “petty-silly problem”. According to him, such leaders are unworthy of the title Honourable, neither do they deserve the respect being accorded them by Ghanaians.
“…These are elderly people and well-educated....they wake up in the morning, brush their teeth...then dress immaculately in flattering suits, sit in flashy cars provided them by the State and go to their offices to do this?...This is incredible...Is this why we allocated them official cars and government bungalows? What is wrong with our leaders?...What is this?...How can we even get water supply and free health care if they cannot resolve this “petty, silly” problem..."petty, silly" problem?” he asked.
The new date of March 23, 2010, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had set for the migration to be effected, would not materialize unless the impasse was amicably resolved, says Spokespersons for both the GIS and the Passport Office in an interview with the Daily Graphic. And with no clear position on who is in charge, the two institutions have acquired new offices in Kumasi to be used as the Passport Application Centre.
The CPP activist speculated that the selfish desire by some unscrupulous persons to profit from this new office, and the decision to retain part of the revenue to be generated from the exercise by the issuing authority as internally generated funds, are some of the reasons why both the GIS and the Passport Office are so embroiled in this tussle.
“Both of them want the perks and the small deals they can make at this new office…that is why no-one is willing to give in,” he conjectured.
Under the prevailing law, NRC Decree 155, the Passport Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has the power and authority to issue passports. However, the GIS, under the Interior Ministry, is the body which receives and vets application forms before their onward submission to the Passport Office.
The Passport Office intends to do away with that function of the GIS in the issuance of the biometric passports and towards that end, the office has proposed to the government to recruit 85 data entry clerks for the purpose of manning the application centres. The passport Office further adds that its decision to take absolute control over the processing and issuance of biometric passports has been informed by complaints from applicant that they often encounter delays in the processing of their forms.
In its defence, the GIS argued that since it was the body that dealt with the administration of passports after their issuance, it must continue to receive and vet applications until such tune that the law was amended to give the issuance of passports to the GIS.
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