Ghanaians underpay for passport services – Dep. Foreign Affairs Minister

Mr Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, says Ghanaians are underpaying for passport services compared to other countries in the sub-region.

He said Ghanaian passports were the cheapest in the West African region, costing eight dollars compared to Liberia where it cost 40 dollars to acquire a passport even though the same company supplied passports to the two countries.

Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong, who is in charge of Political and Economic Affairs at the Ministry, giving an update on passport and consular services, emphasised that ‘Ghanaian passports are heavily subsidised.’

He said, ‘Until we get the full complement of equipment, computers, and giant printers, we will continue to have problems. Until we are ready to invest, we will continue to have problems. Until we are ready to pay the realistic fees for passports, we will have problems.’

On the average, some 5,000 passport applications are processed daily.

Out of the number, only a maximum of 3,000 of the
passports are printed, despite a 10-hours daily operation.

As a result, there is a back lock of 2,000 passports daily, 10,000 by close of week and between 40,000 to 50,000 in a month.

As of the close of Friday, 24th November 2023, the Passport Office had printed a backlog of about 310,513 passports dispatched to the various Passport Application Centres for collection.

That, Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said, was simply because the Ministry did not have the resources to buy printers, and other equipment, ‘creating room for corruption.’

He said, ‘The problem we have, which has contributed to the activities of ‘Goro boys,’ is because we are not on top of what we are supposed to be doing. For example, we are not able to undertake the capturing of biometric data as people would have expected and, we are not able to print the booklets as stipulated in our service arrangement. It all boils down to the issue of resources.’

‘As we speak, we don’t have enough computers to be able to do the capturing. We don’t have enough
printers to print the passport booklets,’ he added.

According to the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, monies expected to be used to purchase computers and printers and other equipment to provide quick service delivery, was used to subsidise passport applications.

‘About 80 per cent of the people who apply for passports don’t really need it at the time they are applying for it.’ Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong noted.

He stated that the Ministry was in consultation with various stakeholders, including Parliament to consider an upward review of passport fees which would cushion it to buy more equipment and to improve the turnaround time for passport acquisition.

Highlighting some initiatives undertaken by the passport Office, Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong 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 had contributed to clearing back logs of passport applications.

He said to reduce overcrowding at the passpo
rt head office, access to the public had been drastically limited as only passport applicants who had genuine reasons to be at the passport headquarters were allowed to access the office.

To further improve security at the passport office, CCTV cameras had been installed in passport offices at the head office to monitor the activities of the officers and to ensure that officers were actively working to achieve set targets.

Mr Paul Cudjo, a Director at the Passport Office, reiterated that despite efforts in reducing the waiting period for new passport applicants and clearing backlog, there would still be some challenges as the passport offices continued to have limited resources to process passports on time.

Source: Ghana News Agency