Parliament has approved a Visa Waiver Agreement between Ghana and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement is in respect of diplomatic, service/special and ordinary passport holders.
The agreement, which was approved on Thursday, August 05, 2021, follows the adoption of the Foreign Affairs Committee Report on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and the UAE on mutual exemption of entry visa requirements in respect of diplomatic, service/special and ordinary passport holders.
The MoU is restricted to holders of diplomatic and other official passports which categories are noted to be easy to manage given the fact that their holders are often public officials whose background and conducts are within the purview of the public and state security apparatus.
The Agreement was executed on November 18, 2019 with the object of waiving the visa requirements for these particular passport holders in Ghana and the UAE before entering into each other’s territories where they can stay for a period not exceeding ninety days.
The MoU on the exemption of visa requirements between the two countries was presented to the House on May 26, 2021 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana K. Bagbin, subsequently referred the Agreement to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for consideration and report in accordance with Order 140(4) and 183 of the Standing Orders of the House.
Presenting its Report on the floor of the House, Chairman of the Committee, Mr Bryan Acheampong, indicated that Ghana has had fruitful co-operation with the UAE and is desirous of deepening the relation and facilitate improved interactions between Ghanaian citizens and officials and those of the United Arab Emirates.
He pointed out that the Agreement, which constitutes a comprehensive framework on visa regimes for both countries accordingly made provisions to cover the diplomatic, service, and ordinary passports for nationals of both countries.
Besides, he added, the Agreement did not impose obligations on the two parties to admit people who are considered to be of questionable character into their territories, neither did it impose any financial obligation on the two parties while neither country will obtain direct financial gains from their implementation.
It has been fashioned in a way as to create a win-win situation for both parties as they open up their countries to each other and the resultant relaxed entry requirements is expected to yield tremendous benefits to their citizens through improved relations, trade and bilateral co-operation, he emphasized.
On the issue of justification, the Committee said visa waiver arrangements were common and intended to facilitate the movement of diplomats and government officials between states for official purposes and demonstrative of mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries.
The House however recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, pursuant to the adoption of the MOU, should work hard to ensure that Ghana’s official passport processing system is improved and made devoid of all manipulations.
It further urged the Minister to engage her counterparts from the Emirates to make similar guarantees to facilitate the possible roll-out of the facility to the entire mass of nationals in the UAE to cement the friendly bilateral relations that exist between the two countries.