Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has said the government views periodic feedback from the citizenry on its policies and programmes as very crucial in determining and responding to their expectations on a sustained basis.
He said it was imperative for the government to listen to the people and respond to their needs, as governance was all about the people Mr Nkrumah was speaking at the first Diasporan Town Hall Meeting in London. The event was the first after the government’s Economic Management Team, led by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, organised a town hall meeting in Accra on Wednesday, April 3.
Organised by Ghana’s High Commission in London, in conjunction with the Ministry of Information in Accra, the event was attended by a large number of Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians.
Issues discussed at the meeting included taxes, port duties, bribery and corruption, energy, the rail sector, health and security. It was aimed at providing Ghanaians in the Diaspora first-hand information on government programmes and policies on the national economy and development. Mr Nkrumah said the government had begun sending messages about what it was doing to all Ghanaians around the globe and taking feedback from them to shape holistic national development.
He said government officials and other officers from state agencies would discuss with Ghanaians all aspects of governance, as well as their expectations.
“We have collected their taxes and also borrowed on their behalf and it is only fair for the citizens to know what we are doing with their money,” he added.
Delivering on its promises
The Information Minister said the people expected the government to deliver on its promises and mandate and, therefore, “we need to let them know every step along the way”.
He said the town hall meeting in Accra had been a huge success and would be replicated in all the 16 regions, adding: “We have done this first Diasporan one here, and later in the year we will go to the United States of America (USA) and Lagos and other countries to meet Ghanaians.”
Mr Nkrumah said the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) was a listening government and buttressed his point by citing the case in which the government, after receiving feedback from Ghanaians abroad, extended the expiry period of Ghanaian passports from four to 10 years.
“We have also ensured that the passport acquisition period is reduced to two weeks, maximum,” he added.
A Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney-General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, said due diligence was being done to ensure that all corruption cases before the Attorney-General’s Department were prosecuted in accordance with the law.
He said the government would not prosecute to score any political points but rather make corruption no longer attractive in society.
Quality of parliamentarians
The Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, expressed dissatisfaction at the quality of experience of some parliamentarians and said the situation was hampering the work of the House.
Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland, Papa Owusu Ankomah, said the mission would help educate Ghanaians in the UK and Ireland on the government’s policies and programmes.