The Minority in Parliament has asked the Akufo-Addo-led Administration to show a lot more commitment to protecting the interest of Ghanaians abroad.
This they say is the only way they will be in the position to contribute their quota to the development of the country.
The Minority says it is disappointing that whilst the Finance Minister announced in the 2017 budget statement plans to set up a diaspora fund which Ghanaians abroad will contribute to, to help the country’s development, government has not shown enough commitment to helping protect them in the light of growing of anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe and America.
Speaking to Joy news, Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa cited statistics from the German Interior Ministry that 10 immigrants are attacked on the average daily to back his claim that Ghanaians abroad are less safer than before.
He also cited statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that 5000 migrants were attacked in the US in 2015, the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the reactions in Europe to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Mr. Ablakwa believes the above concerns should have prompted government to include in the budget measures to re-assure Ghanaians that embassies all over the world would be better equipped, made more responsive and given a special budget line so they will be able to help Ghanaians who come under attack.
“Our nationals, they have been calling me. They (also) put out their own videos (showing) the attacks they come under… So the budget must be responsive. We should show Ghanaians where ever they are that we care for them. So we should have done that…,” Mr. Ablakwa explained.
Criticism of Diaspora Fund
It would be recalled that Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta announced plans to establish the Diaspora Fund when he delivered the budget statement to parliament on Thursday 2nd March, 2017, as a more structured way to get them to support the country’s development.
“We want to deepen (the relationship) with the diaspora even further and in view of this, government will establish a Diaspora Fund which will focus on tapping into and leveraging the vast financial resources of Ghanaians in the diaspora in a more structured manner towards the development of our motherland,” he explained.
But Mr. Ablakwa says government must first safeguard the lives of Ghanaians abroad by better resourcing embassies abroad to protect them before it can have the right to request their support through the fund.
“Even when you want them to contribute to some fund, at least, let them know that you care about their safety and their lives. We need them alive before they can contribute into your diaspora fund, but we didn’t do that. And I am very troubled about that,” he said.
Mr. Ablakwa however says it is not too late for the president to take a second look at Ghana’s foreign policy and put in place the necessary measures to safeguard Ghanaians in the wave of growing anti immigrant sentiments particularly in Europe and America.
But the Majority in Parliament has dismissed the concerns. Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Patrick Yaw Boamah says the concerns are not valid enough.
“We have the mission funds and the missions to take care of some of these challenges. These are consular matters that our embassies and missions abroad do resolve when they come up,” he said.
Mr. Boamah added: “We will say as a responsible government that we have Ghanaians abroad at heart. We care for them. We are on top of the issues. We will respond to their needs appropriately and accordingly. And ensure that they are well protected and their interests are taken care of.”