top of page
  • Think News Online

How did Parliament ask you to do this? – Ablakwa asks Ayorkor Botchwey about approval of new passport fees

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has alleged that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey smuggled the new passports fees through parliamentary procedures.

He said Mrs Botchwey and her team exploited loopholes in the procedures of the House without the required bipartisan support at the level of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“I’m saying this on authority. They exploited a loophole in the system. When they saw that this will not receive bipartisan support at Foreign Affairs Committee they didn’t return to us. So that is why I have said in my statement that look, we will not accept this betrayal, this undermining of our Committee. We want the Foreign Minister, and I heard her in the clip you just played that Parliament has asked us to do this. How did Parliament ask you to do this? You brought this to Parliament, smuggled it in the fees and charges and you had your 21 days. Don’t shift this to Parliament” he said in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on 3FM Sunrise Morning Show on April 3.

The North Tongu MP revealed that during a budget approval session on December 12, 2023, the Minister hinted at her intention to hike passport application fees without providing adequate justification.

However, when the matter failed to earn bipartisan support within the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Minister allegedly sidestepped further consultation with the committee, pushing the proposal through without proper scrutiny.

“The level of contempt the Minister for Foreign Affairs has exhibited in this matter and how she has treated our Committee is utterly shocking, especially to those of us on the Committee,” he said.

Touching on claims that applicants who pay the new fees will get chip-embedded passports, Ablakwa said the Mrs Ayorkor Botchwey admitted during a committee session that the government was not yet ready to implement chip-embedded passports, for which the new fees will apply, due to unresolved contractual issues.

“The Minister told us at committee that they are not ready for the chip-embedded passport. So, everybody who is going to pay this new fee, you are going to get the same old biometric passports which many countries left behind about 10 years ago,” he stated.

Ablakwa also criticized the Minister’s justification for the fee increase, arguing that passport services should normally be accessible to all citizens, regardless of their financial status. He highlighted existing fee structures which, he claimed, inherently provided subsidies for those in need.

“The rich already subsidize the poor through premium service fees,” Ablakwa pointed out. “There are other countries where citizens receive passports for free, such as those serving in the army or belonging to vulnerable groups. These are services that we should render,” he suggested.

Furthermore, Ablakwa urged the government to focus on addressing pressing issues such as economic challenges, unemployment, and poverty, rather than imposing burdensome fees on citizens.

“If the conspiracy theories are true, then this totally missed the mark because it will not work,” Ablakwa warned, urging the government to reconsider its approach.

It would be recalled that, speaking in an interview with Journalists in Accra on April 2, 2024, the Foreign Affiars Minister said once Parliament has approved the new fees, it is the only institution that can reverse the charges.

“Parliament agreed to increase it, so it’s been done. If Parliament decides that we should go back, we would have to look at it. It’s Parliament that decided and we go by what they decided,” Mrs Botchwey noted.

Effective April 1, the online passport application page of the Ministry was updated to reflect the new fees.

In December last year, sector Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey requested Parliament’s Committee on Subsidiary Legislation that the passport application fees be reviewed to allow the ministry to reduce losses in passport booklet printing.

“It is time for Ghanaians to pay realistic prices for passports they acquire to travel beginning next year,” said the Minister.

“Ghanaians pay just about GH¢100 for a passport yet to produce one passport booklet it costs GH¢400 which means that for every passport that an applicant acquires, the government has to put in GH¢300 and this is not sustainable,” she added.

The Minister also argued that the current fee of $7.7 for the acquisition of a Ghanaian passport was the lowest in the sub-region.

A comparison showed that Cameroon charges $180, Guinea $57, Guinea-Bissau $65, Burkina Faso $80, and Nigeria $54.29 for passport services.

Meanwhile, the new fees as proposed by the Ministry received no objection at the committee level within 21 days, paving the way for them to go into effect.

Credit: 3news



bottom of page