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President Akufo-Addo has cautioned some of his appointees who are fond of engaging in needless squabbles to immediately desist from the practice.
He gave the warning during the 2018 Conference of Heads of Ghana Missions held in Accra yesterday under the theme, ‘Leveraging Ghana’s Foreign Policy for National Development.’
He disclosed that “it has come to my attention that in some of the Missions, the exact opposite of my appeal is being adhered to; there are several reports of petty squabbles, turf wars, outright confrontations and a complete breakdown in relations between some heads of missions and their respective Foreign service officers.”
The situation, the President insisted “is completely unacceptable, and is proving detrimental to the smooth running of High Commissions and Embassies and occasioning unnecessary and additional costs.”
He consequently urged the Ambassadors and High Commissioners to exercise utmost restraint in their dealings with the foreign service officers, who may be problematic, saying “those, who misconduct themselves, can be duly sanctioned in accordance with the law after being subjected to due process.”
“I would advise the Minister for Foreign Affairs to investigate and act swiftly in dealing with complaints lodged by a Head of Mission about any officer, who misconducts himself or herself in contravention of the rules and regulations that are to guide their conduct,” he declared.
The President stressed that heads of missions must create a harmonious working environment because it’s only through that they can be guaranteed that their staff are sufficiently motivated to work hard to achieve the desired results and stated goals of the nation.
He indicated that the various foreign service officers at the Missions possess invaluable experience and in-depth knowledge of the terrain, which should help them discharge their duties effectively.
Over the past 23 months, he revealed that Ghana’s image and pride of place among the comity of nations has been greatly enhanced and restored.
This, President Akufo-Addo said, was as a result of the work done by Ghana’s High Commissioners and Ambassadors whom he had sworn in.
He, therefore, urged them to “continue in this regard over the period of your tenures in office.”
“It’s in our collective interest that we do everything we can not only to preserve this hard-won reputation, but also to attract the investments that will facilitate the structural transformation of our economy so central to the future prosperity and stability of our country,” he stated.
With the heads of mission deliberating on a range of issues that are the priorities of Government and Ghanaian people over the course of the Conference, President Akufo-Addo said that the outcome of the conference would further deepen their understanding of their roles and responsibilities to enable them achieve concrete and beneficial results for the nation.
“You are the chief promoters of Ghana’s diplomatic and commercial interests in your respective countries, and this conference will reinforce that motivation,” he said.
He continued, “As heads of missions, you are now required to be more visible and proactive in your dealings in order to make the desired impact. You must endeavour not only to interact with the Executive and Legislative arms of Government in your host countries, but also with academic institutions and influential civil society organisations, including the media. When this is done, you can be certain that you would have helped to promote government’s agenda for economic transformation and the prospects that it offers all stakeholders.”
Whilst acknowledging the challenges facing the Ministry and Missions, President Akufo-Addo indicated that government is committed to resolving the challenges, and as a first step, there has been a modest increase in this year’s budget for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It’s incumbent on you to exercise prudence in the use of the Mission’s resources, and find innovative ways of increasing the proportion of internally generated funds. Furthermore, the Ministry has also contracted a $50 million loan to help in the rehabilitation of the rundown infrastructure of many of our missions. The minister has assured me that the loan will be vigorously disbursed and employed in this new year of 2019,” he added.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Canada, Ayikoi Otoo, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, appealed to the President to, as a matter of government policy, consider removing duties on at least one vehicle heads of missions import into the country.
They also appealed to the President to increase the number of dependents heads of missions can take along to their posts from two to three.
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