The Minister for the Interior, Mr Mark Owen Woyongo, yesterday, paid a working visit to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) as part of a familiarization tour of agencies and institutions under the Ministry.
Speaking at a durbar organized in his honour, the Acting Director of GIS, Commissioner of Police (COP) Peter Alex Wiridu, disclosed that the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) was embarking on the construction of an 8-storey headquarters building estimated to cost US$30, 000,000.
In addition, COP Wiridu said, GIS was benefitting from a broad E-Ghana project under which an 18 million Euro, World Bank-funded e-immigration sub-project, with counterpart funding of 7 million Ghana Cedis, was being implemented.
He said the 18-month project, expected to be completed at the end of December 2014, essentially sought to automate GIS’s processes and enhance its efficiency.
He disclosed further that a new project, the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA), estimated to cost 3 million Euros, was being sponsored by the International Maritime Organisation (IOM), adding that the overall objective of the project was to contribute to the Government of Ghana’s efforts to manage migration effectively through the establishment of an integrated migration management approach.
COP Wiridu expressed gratitude to the European Union, UK, The Netherlands and Spain for their sponsorship and general support towards the implementation of key projects for the GIS.
On the performance of GIS, he noted that as a frontline agency responsible for gate-keeping Ghana’s national territorial boundaries, GIS had, through vigilance and border patrols, effectively managed the entry and exit points of Ghana’s national borders and deterred irregular migration and illegal entry into the country.
Mr Wiridu disclosed that even though GIS was not a revenue generation agency in the strict sense of the term, the records showed that in 2012, an amount of GHC21, 888, 474.50 was generated as revenue to the state while the Service met its revenue targets and generated a colossal amount of GHC22, 856,551.00 for the state in 2013.
He added that for the first half of the year, the revenue figures looked good, having already generated an amount of GHC20, 622, 573.00, adding that revenue was generated from processing fees, fines from breach of relevant immigration laws and charges for carrier liability.
He said GIS was plagued with very critical logistical needs that impacted negatively on their day-to-day operations.
COP Wiridu said GIS did not have a national headquarters exclusively to itself, neither could any single regional capital boast of a regional headquarters.
Furthermore, he said, only about 6.3 per cent of the entire staff population of GIS was accommodated, leaving the remaining 93.7 per cent in self-rented premises.
In addition, he said, the Border Patrol Unit of GIS lacked the needed logistics such as vehicles, including motor cycles, batons, jungle boots, tents and flash lights, rain coats and surveillance equipment while officers and men had the unpleasant duty of battling smugglers―sometimes armed to the teeth― with their bare hands.
COP Wiridu, therefore, appealed for state-of-the-art patrol vehicles and renewed the call for officers and men of GIS to bear arms in the course of duty at both the approved and ungazetted entry and exit border points.
On its role in the prevention and combating the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), he said GIS required basic protective gear, especially for the 56 approved entry points across the country, and appealed for the necessary funding to procure the requisite supplies.
He said budgetary allocation to GIS was inadequate in the face of expansion in its core functions and related operational and administrative activities, and made a special appeal for an appropriate representation to the Ministry of Finance to consider increasing GIS’s Internally-Generated Fund (IGF) retention by about 20 per cent.
In an address, Mr Woyongo charged GIS to ensure that expatriates came to Ghana with skills that Ghanaians did not have and to investigate claims that foreign companies changed addresses so as to venture into businesses reserved for Ghanaians.
Mr Woyongo urged GIS to thrive on intelligence in dealing with smugglers, provide incentives for informants who provided vital information leading to the arrest of smugglers and to strive to control the proliferation of small arms.
He also called upon officers and men of GIS to eschew partisan politics, exhibit the highest standards of professionalism in their attitudes towards work, be disciplined, respect authority and make a resolution for zero tolerance for corruption.
He cautioned officers and men of GIS against strike an actions, noting that as a para-military institution, GIS was debarred from embarking on industrial actions.
Mr Woyongo disclosed that the Ministry was considering arming every officer of GIS, since they were the first line of defence to aggression from without and cautioned, however, against the use of weapons placed at their disposal against innocent citizens, should the policy become effective.
He disclosed that a review of laws affecting the smooth, effective and efficient performance of GIS was in the offing.
He commended GIS for the successes chalked so far in the face of constraints and challenges that militated against their work, adding that in order to be more effective in the discharge of their duties at the border entry points, there was the need for collaboration with other stakeholders and agencies.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of the GIS Board, Dr Adelaide….. entreated officers and men of GIS to uphold the virtues of integrity discipline and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)