President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has advised Ghana’s heads of missions (Ambassadors and High Commissioners) to create a harmonious working environment that will motivate staff to work hard to achieve the stated goals of the nation.
He described as unacceptable reported cases of petty squabbles, turf wars, outright confrontations and a complete breakdown in relations between some heads of missions and their respective Foreign Service officers.
President Akufo-Addo, who was addressing the opening ceremony of the 2018 Conference of Heads of Ghana Missions at the Jubilee House yesterday, described the prevailing situation as completely unacceptable, as it could be detrimental to the smooth running of the missions.
The three-day conference is on the theme: “Leveraging Ghana’s Foreign Policy for National Development”.
The President urged the ambassadors and high commissioners to exercise utmost restraint in their dealings with the Foreign Service officers, even with those who may be problematic.
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He warned that those who misconducted themselves could be sanctioned in accordance with the law, after being subjected to due process.
Act on complaints
The President advised the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to investigate and act swiftly in dealing with complaints lodged by a head of mission about any officer who misconducted himself or herself, in contravention of the rules and regulations guiding their conduct.
He reminded the political appointees that the Foreign Service officers at the missions possessed great experience and in-depth knowledge of the terrain, which should help the political heads discharge their duties effectively.
He reiterated the fact that Ghana’s image and pride of place among nations of the world had been greatly enhanced in the last 23 months, explaining that it was due to the work done by Ghana’s envoys and urged them to continue with it.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana had, over the last two and a half decades, managed to build an enviable reputation as a peaceful and stable country and a beacon of democracy on the continent.
“It is in our collective interest that we do everything we can to not only preserve this hard-won reputation but also attract the investments that will facilitate the structural transformation of our economy, so central to the future prosperity and stability of our country,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the conference would help deepen further the understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the high commissioners and ambassadors to 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 told the heads of missions.
The President asked the heads to endeavour to interact with the Executive and the Legislative arms of governments in their host countries, as well as with academic institutions and influential civil society organisations, including the media, to help promote the government’s agenda for economic transformation.
He gave an assurance that the government was committed to resolving the challenges facing the missions, saying that as a first step, there had been a modest increase in this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The President noted that it was incumbent on the heads of missions to exercise prudence in the use of the missions’ resources and find innovative ways of increasing the proportion of internally generated funds.
He announced that the ministry had also contracted a $50-million loan to help in the rehabilitation of the run-down infrastructure of many of the missions.
“The minister has assured me that the loan will be vigorously disbursed and employed in this new year of 2019,” President Akufo-Addo added.
For her part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said the topics to be discussed at the conference included current economic and social development in Ghana, the national development agenda, the African Continental Free Trade and its implications for Ghana’s trade, among others.
She urged the envoys to be guided in their operations by the performance management systems of the Ghana Civil Service and key legislation relating to financial, estate and human resource management.