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‘Passport fees hike imminent’

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has confirmed that fees for passports will be hiked.

The fees are currently pegged at K48, 500 for normal processing which takes 21 days, K58, 500 for urgent processing which takes five days and K68, 500 for express which takes 24 hours.

Director General of the Department, Masauko Medi, said the current fee for passport processing is below the cost of production of the document.

He said this when Minister of Homeland Security, Nicholas Dausi, toured the Immigration Offices in Blantyre over the weekend.

Medi said the current fee—was arrived at when the kwacha was trading at K480 to the dollar.

Medi said the standard cost of processing and producing a passport is at $100. This means that if the fees are to be adjusted, a normal process for a passport would shoot to around K72, 000.

He said there was no need for the government to keep subsidising the document.

Medi said with the introduction of national identity cards, a passport is no longer a need for identification in the access of services but it is for those wishing to travel outside the country.

“Can a mere local person want to travel? No. If he wants to travel, then he should make a proper plan and save enough money [to acquire a passport]. Otherwise, with the national ID in place, Malawians don’t need the passport as a form of identification,” he said.

In the past, one needed a passport or a driver’s license as identification documents in banks and other facilities.

But Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director, John Kapito, blames the Immigration Department chief for suggesting that a passport is a preserve for the well-to-do.

“It is wrong to attach the price of a passport to few people who have money and can go outside [of the country] to have fun. Small scale businesspeople need passports to conduct cross-border trade.

“Again, sometimes, poor people go out of the country to receive medical treatment. The government should be putting in place measures to ensure that the passport is a document that is easily accessed by its citizens,” he said.

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