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General News Thu, 29 May 2003

Passport Fees to Go Up ?500,000

MINISTRY, PASSPORT OFFICE DODGY OVER QUESTION

As part of the government efforts to mobilize internal revenue, as well as to eliminate middlemen in the processing of passport, the processing fees would soon be fixed at ?500,000 which represents an increase of 1000 per cent, Chronicle has learnt from its source at the finance ministry.

The new processing fees, when approved by the cabinet, are expected to come into operation in July, this year, the source added.


The source explained that if the cabinet approved the new deal, it would take a period of one week for processing the passport. This move, which the source described as "Fast Track" will supersede the hotline system once introduced by the former foreign minister, Hon. Hackman Owusu Agyemang.


Currently, applicants pay ?50,000.00 for the acquisition of passport within the period of four weeks, a situation that forces most applicants to contract the middlemen.


In line with the government policy to streamline the institution, the source disclosed that the government has taken into consideration the between ?500,000.00 and ?700,000.00 fees charged by the so called "passport contractors" whose means is found to be the quickest way of obtaining the document.


Consequently, the government decision to restructure the major sister institutions to relieve it of paying huge annual subsidy will aggravate on already high employment rate in the country, as most passport contractors would be kicked out of job.

Investigation conducted by this paper revealed that about 1,500 middlemen would lose their job, if the cabinet decided to pull the strings for the implementation of the new processing fees.


But on the other hand, some people think it is a step in the right direction as the move is geared towards the elimination of waste in the system, a criterium of good governance, the paper gathered.


Meanwhile, when this paper contacted the Foreign Affairs ministry to confirm the report, Mr. Acquah, who first consulted his boss, later directed that our reporter consult the director of passport.


Already, the Chronicle had checked with the two sister institutions - Immigration Service and the Passport Office - on previous week and both argued that anything that involves upward adjustment of processing fees was the sole responsibility of the foreign ministry.


The Chronicle source alleged that, a meeting was convened on the May19, this year for the new processing fees and that proposal has been submitted to the cabinet for approval.

Source: GHANAIAN CHRONICLE
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