The ban was contained in a memo signed by Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Opare, which also exempted the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey from the directive
National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, finds government’s temporary ban on foreign travels problematic.
“The President of the Republic has directed that, all foreign travels by Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MMDCEs and Heads of Government Agencies be temporarily suspended with immediate effect.
“Guidelines in respect of future foreign travels aimed at minimising disruption to Government’s domestic work will be communicated to you shortly. The Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is however exempted from this temporary ban on foreign travels,” the memo said.
Mr. Ablakwa on Eyewitness News said the memo on the ban only exposed government’s lack of a detailed plan regarding foreign travels.
“I have seen the memo signed by the Chief of Staff which only portrays a government that has not been organised from day one, and has not been very disciplined.I think this memo is rather to self-indict people.”
Frema Osei Opare
Raising other issues with the ban, the MP wondered why only the Minister of Foreign Affairs was exempted when some programmes are statutory and will thus require other Ministers to travel equally.
“This directive is very blanket. Only the foreign Minister is exempted. There are some travels that are statutory. For example, the Ministry of Education where I worked is serving on the UNESCO council. At least once a year, there is a trip to parade for the UNESCO council meeting, so are statutory travels of that nature exempted? There are also issues of emergencies. If there is an emergency and you need to fly out the Minister what happens? There are many problems with this directive.”
Mr Ablakwa further indicated that the situation was entirely different under former Presidents Mills and Mahama, given that officials were required to seek permission for foreign travels before they were granted.
“I have served under Mahama as deputy Minister of Education, and for every travel, you will require express permission from Chief of Staff. There has always been a guideline…,” he recalled.
Why the ban?
In giving reasons for the ban, Deputy Chief of Staff, Abu Jinapor explained that government was only seeking to streamline the guidelines for foreign travels by appointees.
“It is not because ministers are travelling too much. That is never the case. You can do that comparative analysis over the years as to how travel has been and also on the usefulness of the travels.”
With the impending framework, Mr Jinapor had said government officials would be “appraised of the sort of travels they will be permitted to embark on and those that will be frowned upon.”