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Governance Okudzeto asks if foreign travel ban on ministers still in force

It is unclear what may have prompted the new directive but a memo from the presidency said the ban was temporary.

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MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa play

MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa


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A Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is demanding from the government if the temporary ban on foreign travel imposed on ministers is still in force.

In June, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo banned all Ministers, Deputy ministers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and Heads of government agencies from travelling outside the country.

It is unclear what may have prompted the new directive but a memo from the presidency said the ban was temporary.

READ MORE: Akufo-Addo issues temporary travel ban on his ministers

The memo, which was signed by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Opare said the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey is exempted from the directive.

However, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu in an open letter to the presidency asked if the ban is still in force asking for an update on the temporary foreign travel ban.

Below is a copy Okudzeto Ablakwa's open letter

OPEN LETTER TO THE HONOURABLE CHIEF OF STAFF, AKOSUA FREMA OSEI-OPARE

REQUEST FOR UPDATE ON TRAVEL BAN IMPOSED ON MINISTERS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT APPOINTEES ON 21ST JUNE, 2018.

Dear Madam,

I convey to you warm compliments from the Minority in Parliament.

Respectfully, on the 21st of June, 2018, you communicated under your name and signature to all Sector Ministers and Deputies, Regional Ministers and Deputies, MMDCEs and Heads of Government Agencies informing them of a Presidential directive to temporarily suspend all foreign travels.

MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa play

MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

 

In the referenced communication, only the Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was exempted.

As you will recall, the document in issue was made public and it is fair to admit that it did attract considerable media attention and enormous national interest.

READ MORE: MPs cited in alleged UK visa fraud to lose diplomatic passports - Ayorkor Botchwey

Speaking on the matter to the press; both your Deputy, Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor and former Information Minister, Dr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid vouched for the authenticity of the document which was at the time in wide circulation.

They both attempted to offer some clarity and assured the nation that "soon" new guidelines covering future foreign travels will
be developed as Government strives to cut expenditure and keep Ministers and other appointees focused on domestic duties.

This open letter is addressed to your high office in utmost good faith and in the spirit of Good Governance requesting that you provide an update to Ghanaians on this ban, four months on.

This update, if provided, apart from helping build confidence in our governance processes so that matters of this nature are not thought of as propaganda stunts, it will also enable those of us in the Legislature adequately discharge our Constitutionally mandated oversight obligations.

It is worth the reminder about how a similar ban on the purchase of new vehicles by Ministries, Departments and Agencies dated March 21st, 2017 which was also signed by your good self and made public has seen no public reversal 19 months on and yet evidence abounds on the purchase of fleets of new vehicles right from the Presidency to Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

Respectfully, this tendency to go public with bans of all sorts and remain silent thereafter hoping all Ghanaians will forget and move on does not promote trust in public officers neither does it create a good image for Government. It also destroys our quest for accountable governance.

In the index case of the ban on travels; it's been four long months since this matter became the subject of national interest. Ghanaians deserve to know: 

1) Is the ban still in force?

2) If not, when was it lifted?

3) If still in force, when will it be lifted?

4) Are the promised new guidelines ready?

5) What is contained in the new guidelines?

6) Considering that Government officials including your Deputy, assured of considerable savings to the State, in all humility, can the tax payer be kindly informed how much Government has saved in specific terms?

7) What has been the general impact assessment of the ban?

With all due respect, it is imperative to point out that we seek to continue in the spirit of public engagement on this matter as initiated by your Government when your signed memorandum was made public and formed the basis for extensive commentary by numerous Government officials.

It is within this context that we have elected to utilize an open letter approach which we believe will enhance the quality of transparency and accountability we all yearn for.

With the raison d'être of building public trust in our public officers and democratic institutions, I humbly look forward to your response in good time.

Kindly accept my very best wishes.

Signed,
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
MP, North Tongu
[Ranking Member, Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament.]
10/10/2018

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