The government is in the process of reviewing upwards the cost of passports acquired locally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has announced.
She said recent changes introduced in passports acquisition and upgrades including extension of validity involved “enormous financial outlays” for which reason the government could no longer continue to “heavily” subsidise cost of passports production.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday to address passport issues, she said the government was not seeking to make profit from the intended hikes but to ensure Ghanaians paid the realistic prices.
Currently, standard application costs GH¢ 50.00, expedited application cost GH¢100, while premium service cost GH¢160 consisting a form of GH¢100 and service fees.
Judging from the cost of blank passport booklet and their personalisation for applicants together with the cost of other consumables, the Minister said, the current price was the lowest in the ECOWAS Region.
“A comparative analysis of the cost of passports in the ECOWAS region shows that Ghana charges the least for its passports, far below the regional average. In the coming days, the Ministry will be considering all options available to ensure that passport production is financed in a sustainable way,” she said.
Ms Botchwey clarified that the cost of passports acquired at the country’s missions abroad would likely remain unchanged as the cost of production there was less expensive.
Some of the changes that has warranted the impending hike included, extension of passport application centres to all the regional capitals; retooling passport office, extension of passports validity and introduction of premium services.
On the passport validity extension, she said it had been moved from five years to 10 years since April 1, this year, as part of measures to reduce the frequency at which Ghanaians apply for passports.
By this action, she pointed out that Ghanaians, who had not exhausted the pages of their passport, would only apply for renewal after 10 years instead of five years.
In addition to this, she said the ministry would introduce 48-paged passport booklets by the middle of this year to satisfy the needs of frequent travellers, as well as embed chips in passports soon to enhance security.
Ms Botchwey said the ministry had also set up a Client Service Unit with a call centre to assist applicants who require assistance with their passport applications to ease their anxieties.
“We will continue to improve on service delivery to the Ghanaian public. Moving into the future, the Ministry intends to introduce a 48-hour service for those who need very urgent services. We believe that this will completely eliminate the use of middlemen or goro boys in the acquisition of passports,” she said.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR