The Ghana Prison Service has expressed concern over its inability to pay medical bills, inmates ration bills, and utilities due to the delay in release of funds, leading to total debt of over GHC 43.165 million.
Currently, the service is in arrears for 11 months of the year 2016 of prisoners ration bills of over GHC 9.596 million, a medical bill of GHC 3.173 million, and utilities GHC 12.885 million in addition to other debts.
Superintendent George Ankamah Chief Budget Officer of the Ghana Prison Service, made this known at the Ministry of the Interior 2017 mid-year review meeting in Accra on Thursday.
The meeting aims at reviewing performance of the Ministries and its Agencies, discuss and prioritize works plans for the second half of the year.
Participants are expected to also discuss a concept paper on the establishment of the Ghana Migration Commission, intensify police visibility and respond to various Regional Peace Council concerns.
Superintendent Ankamah said the current feeding fee of GHC 1.80 cedis per prisoner a day is woefully inadequate.
“We anticipate that the 11 months of prisoners ration bills in arrears would be released before the end of the year and the budgetary releases would be increased substantially to meet the needs of the service in order to enable it execute its mandate efficiently.”
The Chief Budget Officer of the Ghana Prison Service said the service intends to modernize its agriculture sector to increase yield as well as expand its livestock production in order to supplement government budgetary provision.
He said the service would be a pursuing strategic rebranding policy in order to give the service a positive image by running efficient industry programmes to enhance skill training in order to help reform and rehabilitate them.
“The Service will embark on vigorous capacity building programmes for categories of staff to enable them cope with modern trends in correction management.
It also intends to commit more funding to the welfare needs of inmates to conform to the United Nations Minimum Standards for the treatment of prisoners,” he said.
He announced that the service has also received a commencement certificate of GHC 200,000 for the procurement of multi-purpose photocopying machines and building materials for the continuation of its headquarters extension project.
In the bid to decongest the Prisons, Superintendent Ankamah said the service has submitted a non-custodial sentencing bill to Parliament.
Mr Henry Quartey, Deputy Minister for the Interior, commended officers for working tirelessly and relentlessly in order to maintain and peace and stability in country.
“I must testify that your hard work has created a peaceful environment for individuals to carry out their daily social and economic activities without fear as well as protected lives and property.”
Mr Quartey told the gathering that the mid-year review of Ministries, Departments and Agencies was mandatory by law under the new Public Financial Management Act, 2016.
The Deputy Minister said though the Ministry was doing well, there are some things that ought to be done to improve its performance in ensuring relative peace and security.
“There is the need for this review and constant stream of feedback to see if the sector is on track. It is significant we make follow-ups throughout the remaining year,” he said.
Mrs Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director of the Ministry of the Interior, in a speech read her behalf said the Ministry would this year revise and coordinate existing laws and develop a concept paper on the establishment of the Ghana Migration Commission.
Additionally, Mrs Anno-Kumi said participants would discuss a five year development plan for the ministry, launch campaign for women in the bid to ensure peace in communities enhance safe custody of inmates, enhance career development and conflict mediation in Bawku, Bimbilla, Alavanyo and Nkonya and discuss and transmit the Narcotics Control Board bill to Parliament.