Mr Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has made a case for an upward review of Passport Application Fees.
He said of all the countries in the West Africa sub-region, Ghana was the one with the lowest Passport Application Fees of $8.00 followed by Liberia with $40.00.
Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong made the disclosure on Tuesday at a News conference in Accra, dubbed “Updates on Passport and Consular Services”.
He said: “Our Passport happens to be the cheapest in the whole of West Africa Region, Ghana passport costs $8.00. The next cheapest is Liberia, (which) is $40.00. the supplier of Liberia passport and Ghana passport is one company. So, it is company “A” that supplies passport to Ghana and Liberia, Liberia charges $40.00, Ghana charges $8.00, so our passports are heavily subsidized.”
“The money that we are supposed to use to buy the computers and the printers to be able to provide good services delivery is being used to subsidize the passport that people apply for.”
He noted that about 80 per cent of people who apply for passports don’t really need it at the time that they applied for it.
He reiterated that resources to buy equipment for passport processing were being diverted to subsidize the passport; saying “so we have a problem there”.
He said the Foreign Ministry was in consultation with Parliament and various stakeholders to review the passport application fees.
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would need the support of Parliament in fixing new passport application fees.
He reiterated the need for them to charge the proper fees for passport applications; so that they would be able to buy equipment and be able to improve the turnaround times for passports.
He said as part of efforts to speed up the printing and delivery of passports to applicants, the Passport Office acquired two Dilleta 900i manual printers this year, which were currently in use and have immensely contributed to the clearing of the backlog of passport applications.
He said to speed up the processing of Received Passport Applications, the Passport Office undertook an upgrade of the passport processing software at the Head Office, which had increased the speed at which Received Applications were processed.
He said as of the close of Friday, 24th November, the Passport Office had printed a backlog of about 310,513 passports and that these had been dispatched to the various Passport Application Centres for collection by applicants.
“I wish to take this opportunity to inform you that the country will commence the issuance of chip-embedded passports by the second quarter of next year,” he said.
Mr Paul Cudjoe, a Director at the Passport Office, reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to enhancing service delivery at the Passport Office.