The Government’s facilitated Christian pilgrimage is set to take off on July 15, 2017, despite the early negative reception from some sections of the public.
The Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister, Kofi Dzamesi, has however stressed that “government is not paying any money” with regards to this pilgrimage.
In a Citi News interview, he indicated that his Ministry would only be playing a facilitation role.
In line with this, the Ministry set up two sub-committees; the Planning and Screening Committees which are composed of members of recognized Christian bodies.
“The facilitation is that, there is an amount of money you bring and that will take care of your tickets, your hotel bills, insurance, the tour guides, the bus, the food etc. So for everything that will make you go and come back without any problem, the Ministry facilitates that.”
The government has noted that, the initiative and the agreed fee for the pilgrimage per person is $2,700.
Nonetheless, the decision to send 100 pilgrims to Israel has been described by critics as a misplaced priority, and the Christian Council of Ghana, for instance, has distanced itself from the process, saying it does not want taxpayers to bear such costs.
But Mr. Dzamesi also told Citi News there’s not much government can do to stop the process because the first batch of pilgrims will leave soon.
“On 15th of July, we will be doing what has been termed as a pilot project. We are going with about 100 people. I will lead that group of people and we will go to Israel.”
On activities expected to take place, the Minister said, “once we are there, we will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Tourism and the Minister of Religious Affairs in Israel and our Ministry.”
Mr. Dzamesi also reminded that, individual Christians are also free to embark on their own pilgrimages if they do not want government’s help.
“We are not against any organisation or church that wants to do that. They can go ahead and do that. It is always the best for the government to facilitate these things and make them easier, but if people think they have an easier way for them to go and come, so be it.”
By: Eugenia Tenkorang/Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana