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Political scientist at the University of Ghana, Prof. Ransford Gyampo has underscored the need for the government to extend the temporary ban of all foreign travels by ministers and other appointees to cover foreign medical trips for such appointees.
Chief of Staff on Sunday announced government’s decision to suspend all foreign travels by ministers of state, deputy ministers, and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly Chief Executives.
The Foreign Affairs minister was however exempted from the temporary ban that is aimed at “minimizing disruption to Government’s domestic work”.
Welcoming the decision, Prof. Gyampo who is the Director of the Centre for European Studies, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to extend the ban to cover foreign trips for medical checkups by ministers and other government appointees.
His decision, he explained, will push the government and officials in charge of the country’s healthcare to prioritize the sector which has been left to its fate.
“All foreign trips for medical checkups must be banned to force us to prioritize in improving healthcare home,” he said, adding, “Let appointees die here as a result of poor healthcare facilities to compel us to sit up”.
Again he said it is important for the country’s Presidents to consider minimizing their frequent travels, adding even when it is necessary to travel, the number of people who accompany the President must also be downsized.
“There is no money and we must protect the public purse from needless expenses,” he said.
He urged presidents and government appointees to emulate the late Prof John Mills who resolved to forfeit travel allowances and per diems for his trips abroad, saying “other Presidents and appointees can learn from this act of selfishness all in an attempt to whip up patriotism and desire to die or sacrifice for the nation, among the citizenry”.
Prof. Gyampo has meanwhile called for stringent rules to regulate “frivolous travels” that disrupts work and impose needless cost to the nation.
Some appointees, he said, create and monopolizes all travel opportunities just because of the per diems and travel allowances.
“Even though some of the conferences require technical information and must be attended by technocrats who may attract lower per diem rates, top officials may prefer to embark on such trips themselves, thereby denying technocrats the exposure required to work home,” he stated.
Some of these conferences, Prof. Gyampo said may usually require quick implementation of decisions reached back home and technocrats required to implement such decisions may, however, be denied the opportunity to attend such conferences.
Rather, “a mere appointee” who can be reshuffled at any time, would want to do all the travels to receive all the information germane to his ministry, only to be reshuffled. In the process, work slows down, huge cost is imposed on the state and institutional memory, as well as the implementation of key decisions reached at international conferences, is sacrificed.
“We cannot allow this practice to go on just because of somebody’s inordinate desire for per diem!” he said.
Prof. Gyampo is also demanding that ministers and top appointees caught traveling abroad to attend lectures are sacked, adding “only Ministers who have the requisite qualifications should be appointed, not those who would want to use the opportunity given them to acquire degrees”.
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