An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) policy analyst, Emmanuel Bensah, says the proposal by leaders within the sub-region to abolish residence permits for member states and introduce biometric Identification Cards (ID Card) is a ‘’good idea’’.
‘’This will help complement attempts to monitor and evaluate the kind of people who pass through the boarders all the time; in principle I think it’s a good idea,’’ he said.
‘’… the abolition of residence permit is one of the key principles of ensuring that there is a free movement for all West African citizens,’’ he added.
Mr. Bensah explained that the intended abolition of the residence permit is long overdue. ‘’It should have been a very important element in the agenda a long time ago; even before the Boko Haram came up.’’
He noted that free movement is one of the pioneering things that ECOWAS has done over the years. But the introduction of a biometric ID will guide how ECOWAS integration should be prosecuted.
According to him ECOWAS should also ensure that the Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism is effective and efficient.
‘’It [ECOWAS biometric ID card] is supposed to be a one stop shop; which will override any passport or ID showed at the borders currently,’’ he added.
The 45th ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of States and Government on-going in Accra, is expected to among others discuss the introduction of biometric ID cards within the sub-region, to allow for free movement and trading amongst members.
However, Mr Francis Palmdeti, Head of Public Relations of the Ghana Immigration Service in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday said it will not be prudent to do away with the residence permit.
‘’… I think that with the residence permit issue that will be a bit more challenging for us [GIS]; the structures we have at the moment to deal with that kind of situation, I am not sure are robust enough,’’ he said.
According to Palmdeti, Ghana does not have a good house numbering system; he suggested that abolishing the residence permit system is not a good idea for Ghana now.
”As it is stands now I don’t think that the structure and things we [Ghana] have can adequately support the policy [ECOWAS biometric ID],” he stated.
”If you ask me, I will think that the policy will have to be delayed or staggered; we shouldn’t go into a quick acceptance of the proposal or the recommendation,” Mr Palmdeti added.
By: Evans Effah/citifmonline.com/Ghana