Call for expedited action on national identification processes

Mrs. Judith Dzokoto, Assistant Director of Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), has called for action to be expedited on the national identification processes to ensure easy identification of citizens including border residents.

She urged traditional and local government authorities to collaborate with border agencies for effective harmonization of immigration laws and procedures.

Mrs. Dzokoto made the call at a media sensitization workshop on regional integration organised by the Integrated Social development Center (ISODEC), a non-governmental organization.

The ISODEC is implementing a project on Non-State Actors (NSAs) on issues of regional integration in the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) sub-region.

Mrs. Dzokoto said the abuse of the free movement protocol and use of unapproved routes by citizens and residents within the sub-region were some of the challenges in the regional integration processes.

She stressed the importance to build a stronger and better Ghana by operating fair but firm immigration controls to regulate and facilitate the movement of people across Ghana‘s borders and efficient residence and work permit systems that meet the social and economic needs of the country.

Mrs. Dzokoto expressed concern about irregular migration and said GIS was working hard to repatriate all illegal migrants and those who had also outlived their 90-day visitor’s permit.

Speaking on the topic, “The challenges of a free trade area and customs union”, Mr. George Apetor, Chief Collector at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority said trade liberalization schemes had faced obstacles that had hampered its effective implementation.

Although unprocessed goods and traditional handicrafts generally have unimpeded access in the ECOWAS Community, industrial products continue to face challenges, he said.

Mr Apetor said it was estimated that the value of trade among member states of ECOWAS was only 15 percent and noted Ghana had fully implemented the provisions under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and the Common External Tariffs (CET) with its annual export to the rest of ECOWAS being 20 percent.

He said the main obstacles and challenges included complex rules of origin and cumbersome approval procedures for industrial goods, ineffective compensation schemes and unilateral anti-trade decisions.

“Also problematic are time-consuming border procedures, unnecessary roadblocks designed to impose illicit fees, imposition of packaging and special health requirements”, he added.

Mr. Apetor called for regular exchange programmes for Customs and Immigration officials and stressed the need to establish ECOWAS Desks and Complaints Units at the various border points to promptly educate citizens of ECOWAS on their rights and address complaints.

Mrs. Rosaline Obeng-Ofori, a former Director of cabinet for the ECOWAS Commission, said with reduction in wars and conflicts within the community, ECOWAS could now devote more time and resources to champion democracy, good governance and economic development in member states.

She stated that the global economic and financial crisis provided yet a great opportunity for ECOWAS to provide economic leadership to the region by working out a regional economic and financial rescue plan to help source funds for its implementation.

“These global economic and financial crises provide great opportunity for ECOWAS to emerge s a clear leader in economic and financial leader in the community”, Mrs. Obeng-Ofori said.

She noted with regret that despite all these economic opportunities there was massive corruption within the ECOWAS commission as a result of personal relations, political and blood relations.

Dr. Yakubu Zakaria, Director of Programmes, ISODEC, explained that the project was a capacity building one for non-state actors towards the realization of a customs union and common market in West Africa.

Source: GNA

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