Ms Hanna Serwaah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has directed Ghana’s missions abroad to procure biometric passport equipment to help the migration to biometric passports by all missions in 2015.
The directive is part of efforts to meet the November 2015 deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to the effect that all countries migrate from issuing hand written passports to biometric ones.
Speaking at a two-day conference in Accra on Wednesday, Ms Tetteh explained to the missions that their respective biometric machines would be linked with Ghana’s Passport Office to ensure one main data or information that could be easily accessible by the authorities.
She said since government wanted to upgrade the biometric passport into chip embedded ones, the missions should ensure that they procured the dual purpose processing and printing biometric equipment that could also print chip embedded passports.
The conference, being attended by all heads of Ghana missions abroad, would enable the participants to confer with management of the Foreign Ministry on issues pertinent to the effective running of the missions.
The missions would also to be briefed on changes and issues at the ministry as well as on new government policies and initiatives so they could better inform and educate Ghanaians and foreigners abroad.
Ms Tetteh said since most of the missions had been experiencing financial difficulties, cabinet had granted approval for Ghana’s missions abroad to retain 100 per cent of their internally generated funds (IGF) with effect from January 2015 to help run their activities.
“This decision will undoubtedly bring considerable relief to all Missions, as many of you are extremely cash-strapped,” she said.
The minister said the Foreign Ministry had embarked on a journey to rebrand itself, its image and its focus, all aimed at re-examining the public image, new look and reinventing internal ways to stay productive, efficient and relevant.
Ms Tetteh asked the missions, especially those in West Africa, to regularly update and provide timely, detailed and accurate information to the President, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS, on the happenings within their respective countries so he could effectively address such issues that demand his attention.
She said the missions were institutions representing Ghana’s image to the world, and it was appropriate to collaborate with the ministry so they could be better informed of government’s programmes and policies to tell “the Government stories” properly to Ghanaians in the Diaspora to invest in the country.
She asked the missions to renew their efforts to engage the Diaspora for increased national development and investment.
The Minister of Finance is expected to present the 2015 Budget and explain the new policy on IGF retention to participants during the conference.
They would also be taken through the processing and printing of biometric passports at selected missions abroad from 2015 and re-branding of the missions and the sector ministry.