Former Member of Parliament (MP) for Awutu Senya West, Ms Hanna Tetteh, has said she did not acquire a diplomatic passport during her first term as legislator because there was no need for it.
“When I was a Member of Parliament, the first time from 2001 to 2004, I didn’t have a diplomatic passport…,” she said.
According to her “everyone wants to have a diplomatic passport” but she opted not to acquire one and made use of only a service passport whenever she needed to “travel for official duties”.
She explained that MPs in the erstwhile Mills administration clamoured for diplomatic passports and “that is when they started using diplomatic passports”.
However, she was of the opinion that “having a situation where MPs revert to service passports would not be a bad thing”.
Ms Tetteh explained that a government official could still disclose to any embassy his intent of travelling to that country when he applies for a visa and the “embassy will take cognisance that you are not going on a personal trip but government business” hence service passports should be adequate.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration emphasised that diplomatic passports are not meant to be used for personal travels.
Ms Tetteh further explained that spouses of public officials are not permitted to use diplomatic passports unless they are serving in a capacity that entitles them to it.
“For personal trips, you would make the application as would any other ordinary Ghanaian but for official trips the protocol service can make the application on your behalf, but private visits you make the application yourself,” she explained.
Her comments follow the abuse of diplomatic passports by three sitting MPs and a former legislator recently.
The culprits, identified as George Boakye, a former Member of Parliament for Asunafo South; Richard Acheampong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region; Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North (Ntotroso) in the Brong Ahafo Region and Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo Ano South West in the Ashanti Region, have been banned from entering the UK for 10 years for alleged visa fraud.
However, Ms Tetteh explained that a clear distinction between official trips and personal travels must be established and various missions from foreign countries in Ghana made aware of that categorisation.
She indicated in an interview on Radio XYZ on Tuesday, 2 May that “it should not be the case that the protocol office” will be used to secure visas for personal trips.