The US government has threatened to cut about $500 million in private investments intended to help shore-up the dipping fortunes of the Electricity Company of Ghana, if the government remains unconcerned about curbing the threat of modern forms of slavery.
The US Ambassador to Ghana Robert Jackson has told Starr News his country, may be compelled to cut critical aid to Ghana, if the government fails to secure successful prosecutions of persons involved in the business of trafficking and child labour.
The 2016 Trafficking in Persons report puts Ghana on a shameful Tier 2 watch list position. This means that the exploitation of Ghanaians, particularly children, is extremely high. The report also highlights extraordinary numbers of boys and girls forced into labour, especially street hawking, begging and fishing.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Starr News, Ambassador Jackson noted that despite some investigations and awareness campaigns, the government of Ghana did not demonstrably commit to anti-trafficking efforts in 2015.
“The US has provided almost 15 million dollars in the last year, to assist the government with training and with enforcement. But we are seeing very little activity on the protection side, we are seeing very little activity on the enforcement side, and we are seeing zero activity on the prosecution side. These are the three pillars for combating trafficking,'' he said.
The US Ambassador was particularly concerned about the seeming lack of investment by government in activities to end modern forms of slavery.
“What we see is a lack of will to take this matter seriously,” he stressed.
Ambassador Jackson made it clear that critically needed aid to Ghana, may be cut, if Government does not take action to improve its efforts to combat trafficking.
“I want all Ghanaians to understand that we may have to look at cutting our assistance not only in the trafficking area, but in many other areas. All non-humanitarian aid may be cut in the next six months, if this matter is not taken seriously,” Ambassador Jackson emphasised.
Next June, another TIP (Traffifking in Persons) report will be compiled. If Ghana's efforts do not show evidence of reductions in labour violations, the consequences could be dire.
The US Ambassador made it clear that although his outfit would not be happy presiding over aid cuts, it would be a needed step.
“The MCC for about $500 million to assist the energy sector, which in itself is designed to leverage another $500 million from the private sector investor who we foresee helping manage ECG - so that's a Billion Dollars to be cut in that area.The cuts will also impact 146 Million dollars annual support to Education, Agriculture and Health.Our support to the Security Agencies will also be affected,” Mr. Jackson warned.
He advised government to pursue prosecutions of persons connected to the business of trafficking, a crackdown on fake recruitment agencies luring women to the Middle East for prostitution and stressed the need for government to equip shelters for persons rescued from trafficking and slavery to make it easy for them to be re-integrated into society.
The US Ambassador believes these activities will reverse Ghana's poor showing in the TIP report.