ACCRA, Several members of Parliament have expressed concern that the 2018 budget allocation for the Ministry of Information, at only 107.34 million cedis (about 23.7 million US dollars) will place some of the units under the Ministry, including the Ghana News Agency (GNA), in dire straits.

The budgetary allocation for 2018 for the Ministry fell below its requirement of 184.86 million cedis, and also fell short by 24 per cent of the 141.07 million cedis which were allocated to the Ministry in 2017.

The House was informed that despite its improved visibility on the international space by signing news exchange programmes with the South Korea News Agency and the Palestine News and Information Agency, the Ghana News Agency has no functional platform for commercial news gathering and distribution and gradually losing its relevance, as private media takes over the landscape to the disadvantage of government communications.

Also, the Agency’s News Management System is not functioning, and the agency plans to restore it, under a two year strategic programme.

Additionally, delays in the release of funds for the year 2017 affected the Agency’s ability to purchase electricity, broadband and fuel for its operational duties as well prompt payment of stringers fees, news gathering processing and dissemination.

Again, the Committee report indicated that the Agency lacks the requisite staff to drive modern news agency practices. In the year 2015, the Agency’s staff strength was 219, but by October 2017, the Agency’s staff stood at 127, a reduction of 92 staff members.