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NewsIncrease in passport fees is to expedite processes - Appiah-Kubi

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Increase in passport fees is to expedite processes – Appiah-Kubi

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Kwame Andy Appiah-Kubi, has emphasized the necessity of equipping the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration with sufficient resources to facilitate the prompt issuance of passports.

This assertion comes as he defends the rationale behind the recent increase in passport application fees.

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The rationale behind the increase, according to him, is to ensure broader passport access and resource sufficiency for the Ministry to print more passports.

During an interview on 3FM’s mid-day news with Beatrice Adu, Appiah-Kubi elucidated that the Ministry sought fee increment approval due to operational deficits and the imperative to expand passport access.

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He emphasized the need for a balanced approach to maintain timely service delivery, urging citizens to recognize the necessity of the fees for facilitating efficient operations.

“You remember during the budget there was an indication that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was running at a loss in respect of applications and operations of passports and at the time parliament approved that the Ministry should bring new fees. I happen to be a member of the subsidiary committee and during the consideration for the fees and charges the Ministry made the submission to the committee the need for us to increase the fees.

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“So this was approved by the committee and subsequently adopted by the Parliament of Ghana.

However, the fee hike has faced criticism from various quarters, including North Tongu MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who deems it insensitive amidst economic challenges.

Ablakwa, in a Facebook post, decried the “draconian” fee hikes, promising a push for reversal when Parliament resumes from recess.

“The timing is unacceptable, we have an economic crisis on our hands where people for the first time are being taken through debt restructuring, haircut, the timing is totally insensitive”.

Previously, the Minority in Parliament, led by the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, announced their intention to advocate for the reversal of the recent passport application fee hikes.

Labeling the new fees as “draconian,” the Ranking Member expressed his dismay over the Ministry’s decision to implement such substantial increases.

In a Facebook post, he expressed his deep disappointment with the Ministry, condemning what he referred to as “astronomical increases” in passport fees.

Asserting that the current economic challenges and soaring living costs rendered the fee increments unjustifiable, he reiterated the Minority’s stance that a graduated approach would have been more prudent.

Despite their advocacy for a more gradual adjustment, the Ministry proceeded with what the Minority deemed as insensitive and unjustifiable fee hikes.

“As my NDC colleagues and I always maintained at the Foreign Affairs Committee, the current economic crisis and unprecedented high cost of living make it untenable to impose these draconian fees.

“We insisted at the Committee that the worst case scenario could be a graduated approach when economic conditions improve, but alas, they ignored our advice and have gone ahead to impose these insensitive rates in one fell swoop.”

draconian

“The Ministry should reconsider this inimical action immediately. We shall surely revisit this matter when Parliament resumes from recess,” he stated.

Background:

The Ministry hiked passport application fees to GHC500 for a 32-page standard booklet and GHC644 for a 48-page booklet, effective April 1, 2024, citing the need to mitigate losses in passport printing.

Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey had earlier lobbied for the fee review, citing unsustainable printing costs compared to sub-regional counterparts.

The proposal faced no objection within 21 days at the committee level, leading to its implementation.

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