Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Tetteh, has suggested that legislators in the country be given service passports and not diplomatic passports.
She was of the opinion that “having a situation where MPs revert to service passports would not be a bad thing”.
According to her, legislators, during former President Mills’ tenure, clamoured for diplomatic passports and “that is when they started using diplomatic passports”.
Ms Tetteh explained that a government official could still disclose to an embassy his intent of travelling to that country when he applies for a visa and the “embassy will take cognisance that you are not going on a personal trip but government business”, hence service passports should be adequate.
The former legislator for Awutu Senya West emphasised that diplomatic passports were not meant to be used for personal travels.
Ms Tetteh further explained that by conversion, spouses of public officials are not permitted to use diplomatic passports unless they are serving in a capacity that entitles them to it.
“For personal trips, you would make the application as would any ordinary Ghanaian, but for official trips the protocol service can make the application on your behalf. But private visits you make the application yourself,” she explained.
Her comment follows the alleged abuse of visas by three legislators and a former legislator using diplomatic passports.
The culprits identified as George Boakye, aformer Member of Parliament for Asunafo South; Richard Acheampong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region; Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North (Ntotroso) in the Brong Ahafo Region and Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo Ano South West in the Ashanti Region, have been banned from entering the UK for 10 years for alleged visa fraud.
However Ms Tetteh explained that a clear distinction between official trips and personal travels must be established and various missions from foreign countries in Ghana made aware.
She indicated in an interview on Radio XYZ on Tuesday, May 2 that “it should not be the case that the protocol office” will be used to secure visas for personal trips.