…As Ejection Looms
The Ministry of Defense is racing against time to avert the imminent ejection of its staff in Ghana’s Missions abroad.
Currently, Ghana’s Defense Staff are living under telling economic hardships due to the non-payment of their allowances.
Apart from the Defence Sections, remittances are sent to the missions abroad, pay staff salaries, rent, utility bills, health insurance, vehicle insurance, medical bills, fuel, and vehicle and office maintenance.
Rent has been in arrears for ten months while utility and medical bills have also not been paid for over one year.
The situation has compelled senior Ghana Armed Forces officers to return home after their tour of duties in foreign missions abroad with unpaid salaries and bills for almost two years now.
Upon hearing the numerous complaints by the Defence Sections coupled with their huge debts in rent, utility and medical bills, and office maintenance among others, the Ministry of Defence given the embarrassment this might cause the nation in the international community is shopping for solutions.
The Paper’s sources say the Ministry of Foreign Affairs &Regional Integration (MFA&RI) in a fax message dated 19th May 2022 requested Heads of Missions with Defence Sections to provide among other details monthly remittance to the Defence Sections; a detailed breakdown of sections monthly expenditure; estimate of the total amount required for the Defence Sections to operate efficiently and any outstanding payments or debts owed by the 27th of May 2022.
It is believed that the move by MFA&RI is to find out why a particular branch under its umbrella abroad has been suffocating in the performance of its duties, for a possible solution at a higher level.
The MFA&RI in its message, also quoted Foreign Service Regulation 32.21 to remind MDAs posting officers to missions to be fully responsible for the upkeep of such officers and all other costs directly related to their operations.
With this action by MFA&RI, the Ghana Armed Forces, through the Office of Chief of Staff (COS) under the supervision of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), quickly sent two service correspondence on 27th May 2022 to all the Defence Sections in the various missions when it got wind of the MFA&RI’s message, directing Defence Attaches not to submit anything to MFA&RI, but rather to channel everything through the Office of Chief of Staff for onward submission to MFA&RI through the Defence Ministry.
“Is the Ghana Armed Forces not aware that whatever happens to the Defence Sections negatively, also hurts the administration of Heads of Missions, MFA&RI and Ghana as a whole? Are the Defence Ministry, the CDS, COS and DFC not aware of Foreign Service Regulation 32.21? the source quizzed.
It must be put on record that, it continued that whatever the Defence Sections were to submit to MFA&RI through the Heads of Missions in respect of inadequate monthly remittances, monthly expenditure, outstanding rent, utility bills, medical bills, debt owed, and shortfalls have been going to the offices of Chief of Staff and the Defence Financial Controller (DFC), every month.
“The CDS, COS and the DFC in Burma Camp, therefore, have all the information from the various Defence Sections abroad so there was no point in directing Defence Attaches to submit MFA&RI’s request through them for processing and coordination. This was a complete attempt to rubbish MFA&RI’s message and to suppress everything” it argued.
In the view of the source, those who think that they are comfortable at the Defence Ministry and Burma Camp and scared of appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to account for monies collected from the government to finance Defence Sections in foreign missions one day?
“After all, the document sent out every month by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) showing the remittances to various missions abroad, are public documents for everybody to see and interrogate. The CAGD does not manufacture the figures they send out monthly but receives inputs from parent MDAs for appropriate action” wondering how are the other government agencies doing it and what the Defence Ministry and its Ghana Armed Forces cannot emulate?
It argued that Staff from other MDAs in the mission areas who used to hold the Defence Staff in high esteem and thought that the Defence staff were also enjoying the same privileges in terms of receiving funds for rent, utility and medical bills, fuel, vehicle and office maintenance have now realized that the Defence staff are orphans, nobody and not being taken good care of.
The worried source stated: “This does not happen to any member from the other MDAs who send their staff abroad. Defence Sections are tired and fed up with the CDS and his staff’s daily tunes of “we are meeting on it”, “We have made presentations here and there”, “We are expecting money from space”.
According to the source, these kinds of meetings, presentations and music tunes are not heard from MFA&RI, Ministry of Trade, Research Department under National Security, CAGD, and Ministry of Information, yet they can cater for their staff needs abroad.
“What then do you achieve in retooling the Ghana Armed Forces with all the equipment in this world government and peacekeepers money and yet, you cannot simply administer and maintain your few staff on diplomatic duties abroad? Are people appointed only to lobby for unwarranted promotions and other interests?”