The recent increment of passport application fees was approved by parliament by unanimous decision, the Majority Caucus in Parliament clarified and defended the hike.

According to the Majority caucus, the increment was a decision by the entire House and at no point in time was there an objection to the hike by anyone, particularly from the Minority caucus side.

The caucus therefore urged Ghanaians to support the increment to make the passport application process effective devoid of long waiting periods to obtain.

Hon Andy Appiah-Rubí, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for Asante Akyem North told members of the Parliamentary Press Corps in parliament on Wednesday, April 3, in Accra.

He explained that, the incre­ment was long overdue as compare to neigbouring countries in the Africa-sub region.

“In the past, passports were used as means of identification so government had to come in to subsidise the fees for passports because it was then considered as a right for everyone who wishes to have so that they can prove their citizenship.

“But in recent times due to the advent of the Ghana Card, it has become necessary for all institu­tions to reconfigure their systems to accept the Ghana Card as a mean of proving citizenship for which reason passports are now a means of international travels.

“Looking at it from that con­text, passport has now become a privilege and no more a right or need,” he submitted.

He said, the data suggests that only 20 per cent of Ghanaians, who have the means to pay for costly visas and air tickets, needed passports to travel and must bear the full cost.

“How fair would it be for the 20 per cent to surcharge the re­maining 80 per cent of us for that which they want for their person­al travel? It is not fair,” he said.

The Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee said the level of the Committee of Subsidiary Legislation where he was the Ranking Member at the time the new fees regime was approved, it was a unanimous decision that the price needed to be reviewed upwards to free government cof­fers from paying the subsidy.

“At the said committee meet­ing, all of us agreed to the increment and recommended the ministry to implement the fee of GH¢500 as approved by plenary. For anybody to step out to say they opposed the upward review is being untruthful to Ghanaians,” Mr Appiah-Kubi added.

He was hopeful that with the new pricing regime following the maturity of the LI 2481, the oth­erwise budget which would have gone into the subsidies would be used to improve the service and allow the government open more passport application centres in the country.

“It is the expectation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration that with the coming into force of the new LI, they’ll be in the position to acquire the necessary equipment to be able to expedite the printing process of passports timeously.”

Mr Appiah-Kubi was optimistic that if the application process is enhanced as promised by the Foreign Affairs ministry, it would clear the place of passport contractors, popularly referred to as ‘goro boys’ who take undue advantage of the system to extort money from applicants.

“This review is giving us the realistic price of a passport,” he said and added that Ghana has the cheapest passport fee in the West Africa sub-region.



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