Passport fees go up

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Harare (New Ziana) – The government has reviewed upwards, with immediate effect, passport application fees as part of a cocktail of measures to reduce a long running production backlog of the travel documents, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Since mid 2018, a massive production backlog had piled up mainly because of failure by the Registrar General’s Department to secure adequate foreign currency to import consumables.

The new application fees, $150 and $600 for an ordinary and emergency passport respectively, are expected to cushion the Registrar General’s department and enable it to raise foreign currency required to procure production material.

Passport prices were previously $53 and $253 for an ordinary and emergency passport respectively.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government had also granted authority for applicants with free foreign currency funds to pay in hard currency for the travel documents.

This, she said, would help the Registrar General’s department to mobilise additional foreign currency needed to import materials required in passport production.

Until now, it was solely relying on Treasury for foreign currency, and had, as a result, incurred a huge debt with foreign suppliers.

Mutsvangwa said the government had also approved an injection of more foreign currency to the Registrar General’s department to help it clear the backlog for passports.

“(Cabinet agreed) that current treasury payment facility of US$1 000 000 per month towards debt settlement be maintained,” she said.

“(Cabinet also agreed) that treasury avails US$6 796 500, 580 200 Euros and $11 781 900 towards meeting the costs of clearing the passport backlog.”

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said government would also soon allow people with free funds to pay for passports in foreign currency.

At the moment, only those based in the diaspora are allowed to pay for a passport using foreign currency.

“That has been approved by Cabinet and we are waiting for the Statutory Instrument to be put in place. We have received requests from various people with free funds and we are waiting for the Statutory Instrument to be put in place then we can allow them,” he said.

With high demand for travel documents, officials at the central registry have been accused of demanding bribes of up to US$200 to speedily process passports for those in urgent need.

The Registrar General’s Office receives around 1 500 new passport applications per day.
New Ziana

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