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Foreign Ministry To Issue Bio-Passports   
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The Passport Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is to take full control of the issuance of biometric passports to Ghanaians.

While effecting the transition from manual passports to the use of biometric ones, the Passport Office may however, use the services of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) of the Interior Ministry only if need be. This follows the resolution of the impasse between the Passport Office and the GIS at a meeting with a Deputy Chief of Staff, Ms Valerie Sawyerr, at the Castle, Osu, yesterday.

After the amicable resolution of the issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, is reported to have stated that the March 23, 2010 date to commence the exercise would certainly be complied with.

He was reported to have stated in response to the demands of the GIS to take control of the issuance of the biometric passports that could only be if the law was amended. Sources at the meeting told the Daily Graphic that the meeting turned out to be a briefing session for Alhaji Mumuni, who further stated that the status quo in the issuance of passports was inconsistent with the new system.

Alhaji Mumuni, the sources indicated, explained that the essence of technology was to dispense with labour intensive activities and it was the fact of being declared redundant till the new system that had generated "Much ado about nothing".

Subsequently, the Passport Office has allocated the ground floor of the former Foreign Affairs Ministry, which was gutted by fire, as the Passport Application Centre for Accra. Alhaji Mumuni was reported to have said that the company doing the installation would act with dispatch to install the equipment and move quickly to install equipment at the other centres in the country.

The sources said the minister was emphatic that the new system was to achieve efficiency and value for money for Ghanaians. They said the Deputy Director of the GIS, Mr Michael Gyamfi, led a team of officials to represent the GIS at the meeting.

The Daily Graphic reported in its February 9, 2010 edition that the GIS and the Passport Office were embroiled in a dispute over which of the two institutions had the mandate to issue biometric passports in the country, a development which threatened to delay Ghana's migration from manual passports to the use of biometric ones by April this year.

Spokespersons for both the GIS and the Passport Office told the Daily Graphic that the new date of March 23, 2010, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had set for the change to be effected, would not materialise unless the impasse had been amicably resolved.

Part of the revenue to be generated from the exercise is to be retained by the issuing authority as an internally generated fund and some sources have pointed to that incentive as one of the reasons why both the GIS and the Passport Office are so embroiled.

And with no clear position on who was in charge, the two institutions had acquired new offices in Kumasi to be used as the Passport Application Centre, as they had done in Accra.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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