2
Diasporian News Sat, 10 Jun 2006

Ghana Embassy in Rome now getting the thumbs up

? Efficient Consular services receives praises from Ghanaians
Bad blood existed between the Ghana Embassy in Rome and Ghanaians communities in Italy backed by its National Council of Associations following increases of passport fees and other related consular services at the Mission.

Derogatory remarks and threat of demonstration were made to the extent of calling for the sacking of the Ambassador, Dr. Kofi Dsane-Selby, after repeated letters to him and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to have the fees reduced received a pose of no response.

The whole saga led to the intervention of Ghana Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kwesi Osei Agyei, who summoned a meeting inviting the two parties on March 16 to resolve the issue with a firm promise that very soon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would issue a directive to all of Ghana?s diplomatic Mission in Europe, except the UK, to charge the same fees for its consular services, a strong point in the protest against the increased fees.

Ghanaians in Italy had earlier argued that ?200 for renewal of a Ghanaian passport and ?300 for new passport is exorbitant and an exceptional case since none of the Ghana Missions abroad charges those fees.

Latest information indicates a new breeze of atmosphere at the Embassy with consular services being rendered in a manner that is gaining approval and praises from applicants.

An insight view of what is prevailing at the Mission recently, especially the Consular section, shows that application of renewal and new passport is processed the same day. Staff reception that had previously been the subject of negative comments has changed to a more cordial relation.


Ebenezer K. Mensah, a Ghanaian resident in Parma, north of Italy, making a comment on the current situation at the Embassy said: ?I?ve not been to the Embassy for a long time, however have heard many bad reports about the Consular but during a recent visit I was fully satisfied with his approach to all who have come to apply for documents. He put in extra working hours and made sure everyone who genuinely came applying for a renewal or new passport returned home with the document. No one has anything to complain about?.


The Head of the Consular section, Kwabena Asare, who together with the Ambassador has been the target of abuse and defamatory remarks during the impasse of the passport issue articulates his job is not being understood by many Ghanaians in Italy. ?It?s not an easy job when you consider the situation in Italy with the rate of misdemeanor about missing cases of passports. It?s our duty to maintain the good name of Ghana by holding in check those trying to get new passport through false means?, he stated.


He further pointed out that all officers working under him have been warned against corrupt practices before rendering services to applicants.

The General Secretary of Council of Ghana Nationals Associations in Italy (COGNAI), Gilbert Abasimi, when asked about the latest development mentioned he has heard reports of change of atmosphere at the Embassy in recent days following 7 months of feud between the Embassy and the Ghanaian communities in Italy.


He said the Council has officially received a letter from the Embassy commending it for calling off the demonstration after the meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rome. The Secretary, however says, promises made by the Deputy Minister that the Foreign Ministry will soon direct all the Ghana Missions, except U.K, charge the same consular fees have still not been carried out, more than 2 months after the meeting. ?What we were calling for during the friction between the Council and the Embassy is justice and the need for the integrity of Ghanaians in Italy to be respected?, stated the General Secretary.


A cross section of Ghanaians talked to on the latest development at the Embassy welcomed the re-established relation between the Ghana Embassy and the Council of Ghanaians Associations but says they would be watching with keen interest if the Deputy Minister?s statement on charges of consular fees at all of Ghana?s Embassies in Europe is implemented or a ploy to stop the demonstration against the increased fees.


-

Source: Reggie Tagoe