US AMBASSADOR CALLS ON INFORMATION MINISTER

The US Ambassador to Ghana, H. E. Robert P. Jackson, on Thursday paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Information, Hon. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid in Accra.

 

The two, discussed a wide range of issues including, Right to Information Bill, Broadcasting Bill, Millennium Challenge Corporation on energy, US Peace Corps and Defence Corporation.

 

Briefing the Ambassador, Hon. Abdul-Hamid said government was committed to passing the Right to Information bill into law by the end of this year to help in the fight against corruption.

 

The Minister stressed that the Ministries of Information and Justice and Attorney General, who were co-sponsors of the bill, were very keen on getting the RTI bill passed this year. According to him, the Attorney General was particularly confident that the RTI was a key ingredient in fighting corruption, adding that the bill would, “introduce better transparency into our governance system.”

 

The Minister also assured that the Broadcasting and Advertising Bills would equally be passed into laws, emphasising for instance that “right now there is a huge debate in our country about three Television stations”, telecasting some obscene material in the night, “and there is no law that prohibit them from doing so…therefore the National Media Commission has informed me that even if they were to go to court to prohibit the television stations from doing it, they might not succeed. Making it more important to pass the broadcasting law in order to sanitise the media environment and get our democracy in better shape.” 

 

On the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Mr Abdul-Hamid agreed that there was some misinformation on its implementation in response to Mr Jackson earlier complaint that there was a lot of misinformation in the public about the compact and therefore called for coordination of information between the Ministry and the US Embassy.

 

According to the Minister, the Ministry of Energy had been clarifying the initial fear that the compact was a complete takeover of the Electricity Company of Ghana, adding, however, that there was more to be done to bring clarity to the issue.

 

“The Millennium Challenge Corporation will invest up to $498.2 million to transform Ghana’s power sector and stimulate private investment. The aim of the five-year Ghana Power Compact is to create a financially viable power sector to meet the current and future needs of households and businesses, and to help fight poverty across the country,” the MCC has posted on its website.

 

Touching on US defence cooperation, Ambassador Jackson allayed the panic that the US was planning to set up military base in Ghana. He explained that US had defence cooperation with a number of countries; hence, the US military undertakes a lot of military exercise around the globe including Ghana.

 

As part of US-Ghana relations, US Peace Corps Volunteers have been visiting Ghana since 1961 to serve in the educational, health and agricultural sectors but their activities are not well known. Ambassador Jackson, therefore, indicated that the US embassy was planning to move their swearing-in ceremony from the eastern region to Accra to where there is more media exposure.   

 

The Ambassador also pledged the commitment of the US to help Ghana fight child trafficking. In that regard, he said, the US was committing a $5 million grant over a period of four years to fight the phenomenon. The US, he said, was also ready to use its expertise to investigate human trafficking cases in Ghana.

 

On the Broadcasting bill, Ambassador Jackson said broadcasting had changed considerably since the advent of Ghana’s fourth republic, lauding the Ministry of Information’s commitment to seeing to the passage of the broadcasting bill into law by end the year. He added US was ready to build the capacity of Ghanaian journalists in US media institutions.

Hon. Abdul-Hamid, (6th from right) and Ambassador Jackson (6th from left) in a group picture with three deputy ministers of the Ministry of Information and some officials from the US Embassy

 

Source: ISD (Sule N. Jotie)