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North Tongu MP reacts to passport fee increment by Foreign Affairs Ministry

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Monday expressed disappointment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration’s decision to increase passport application fees in the country.

He noted that he and his colleague MPs on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee had suggested a graduated approach when economic conditions improved, but their advice was disregarded, and urged the Ministry to reconsider its actions.

The Ministry, in a statement issued on Monday, announced an upward review of fees and charges for all services it provided to the public, effective, Monday, April 1, 2024.

The statement also explained that the decision aligned with the 2023 fees and charges regulations, Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2481.

It said: ‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration wishes to inform its valued clients that, in accordance with the fees and charges (Miscellaneous provisions Regulations, 2023 (L.I 2481), there
will be an adjustment in the fees and charges for all services provided by the Ministry.’

‘The adjustment will take effect from Monday, 1st April 2024.’

‘…Processing fee for an expedited 48-page passport now costs GHS800, while 32 pages application is GHS700.’

‘Expedited Application 48 Pages GHS800. Expedited Application 32 Pages GHS700. Standard Application 32 Pages GHS500. Standard Application 48 Pages GHS644.00.’

Reacting to the announcement on his X, formerly Twitter, account cited by the Ghana News Agency, Mr Ablakwa said the current economic crisis and the unprecedentedly high cost of living made the proposed increased fees untenable.

‘I am terribly disappointed in Ghana’s Foreign Ministry for the astronomical increases in passport application fees. 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 Committee that the worst case scenario c
ould 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,’ the post read.

‘The Ministry should reconsider this inimical action immediately. We shall surely revisit this matter when Parliament resumes from recess,’ he wrote.

On Friday, December 15, 2023, the Ministry on the Floor of Parliament sought to increase the amount Ghanaians would pay to secure passports from GHS100 to GHS644.

Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the sector Minister, explained that the deficit in the printing of passport booklets was preventing the necessary investments in the Passport Office.

‘…Ghanaians pay just about GHS100 for a passport, to produce one passport booklet, it costs GHS400, which means that for every passport that an applicant acquires, the government has to put in GHS300 and this is not sustainable,’ she said.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament before the approval of a GHS1.127 million budget estimate for th
e ministry, Madam Ayorkor Botchwey told the House that the proposal was being considered by the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.

She said: ‘On the cost of passports, it is not sustainable, therefore, I will plead with this honourable house to look at the issue for us. It is already before the subsidiary legislation committee, and I’m hoping that Ghanaians will pay realistic prices for passports.’

‘At the moment, passports don’t serve as IDs, we have national ID cards. Therefore, those who need passports are those who need them to travel, and I don’t think that they would want us to continue to subsidize it,’ the minister said.

Per the report by the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the 2024 budget estimates of the ministry, a comparison of Ghana’s passport fees with that of other West African countries shows the rate of $7.7 is the lowest within the sub-region.

Cameroon charges $180, Guinea $57, Guinea-Bissau $65, Burkina Faso $80 and Nigeria $54.29.

Source: Ghana News Agency