Parliament debates visa waiver by six countries for diplomatic, service and ordinary passport holders

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, yesterday challenged the addition of ordinary passport holders as part of the beneficiaries under Ghana’s visa waiving arrangements with six countries.

Mr Ablakwa who is a ranking Member of Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, therefore, asked the Parliamentary Hansard to initiate the necessary corrections by ensuring that ordinary passport holders as captured in the papers presented to parliament was duly deleted.

Mr Ablakwa’s interjection to have the ordinary passport holders name deleted occurred yesterday during the correction of votes and proceedings and official report by Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye as part of official routine of parliamentary proceedings as stipulated in the Order Paper.

It would be recalled that, during last Friday Parliamentary sitting, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration laid a bilateral agreement between Ghana and six countries to waive visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, service and ordinary passports.

The countries which by the agreement would open their borders to Ghana in a vice versa arrangement as reported by the Ghanaian Times on October 26, 2019 (Saturday’s edition) are Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Hungary, India, Iran and Morocco.

However, Mr Ablakwa in his rebuttal in the chamber said Ordinary Passport holders were not included in the papers presented to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, therefore, there was the need to delete that part to correct the erroneous impression being created in the public domain.

When the Speaker referred his (Mr Ablakwa) assertion to chairman of the Committee, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, he said it was premature for the Ranking Member to believe that ordinary passport holders were not included since the committee was yet to receive the full and detailed agreements.

Mr Ablakwa who was not enthused by the response of the chairman said the report as captured by the Parliamentary Hansard could be misleading to which the speaker enquired, “What is misleading?”

To bring matters to rest, the Speaker ruled that the issue should be resolved at the committee level but the report could not be deleted since on Friday’s Order Paper, the Ordinary Passport holders were part of the beneficiaries according to the paper presented on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

Ordinary (Regular) passports are passport issued to nationals of a country for their travelling abroad while service (official) passports are issued to government employees and their accompanying dependants for their work-related travels abroad.

Diplomatic passports are issued to diplomats of a country and their accompanying dependants for international travels.

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