Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

Par­lia­ment’s Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on law and Pub­lic safety has or­dered the min­istry of Home affairs to re­duce pass­port charges “within a month”.

the fees were in­creased last month from m100 to m150 and m150 to m300 for a new 32-page and 64-page pass­port. the min­istry also hiked charges for re­plac­ing a lost 32page and 64-page pass­port from m100 and m200 to m300 and m600, re­spec­tively.

How­ever, the Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee wants the min­istry to re­vert to the old charges as the new fees are un­af­ford­able to the gen­eral pop­u­lace.

al­though the min­istry had tabled the new fees be­fore par­lia­ment on 2 novem­ber and re­ferred them to the Com­mit­tee for con­sid- er­a­tion, ap­pli­cants had al­ready started pay­ing the in­creased charges.

the Com­mit­tee’s chair­per­son, li­neo molise-mabusela of the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) on mon­day said the min­istry had al­ready been in­formed of the de­ci­sion to re­duce the fees next month.

ms molise-mabusela also said the min­istry should slash charges for re­place­ment 32page and 64-page diplo­matic pass­ports from m800 and m1500 to the orig­i­nal m100 and m200, re­spec­tively.

“the in­creases are too high and can­not be af­forded by ev­ery­body,” ms molise-mabusela told par­lia­ment.

the for­mer Home affairs deputy min­is­ter also said the Com­mit­tee re­alised the Pass­port Fees regulation of 2015 tabled be­fore par­lia­ment on 2 novem­ber sought to re­peal le­gal no­tice no 71 of 2013. ms molise-mabusela how­ever, noted the no­tice was only par­tially tabled by for­mer Home affairs min­is­ter Joang mo­lapo and as a re­sult, did not ex­ist.

“the Com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that this pro­vi­sion con­cern­ing a non-ex­is­tent le­gal no­tice be dis­al­lowed as it seeks to re­peal a nonex­is­tent sub­or­di­nate law,” said ms molisemabusela.

makhaleng Con­stituency mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (mp) mootsi le­hata told the House he was in com­plete agree­ment with the Com­mit­tee as the pass­ports had be­come too ex­pen­sive.

“it is hard for an or­di­nary ci­ti­zen to ac­quire an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card and birth cer­tifi­cate, and in­deed the pass­port, due to the travel costs in­volved,” the DC leg­is­la­tor said.

“a vil­lager from makhaleng spends up to m500 in travel costs to get th­ese doc­u­ments.

“We are say­ing Ba­sotho are al­ready pay­ing a lot due to the tight re­quire­ments to ac­quire th­ese doc­u­ments as they find them­selves go­ing back and forth be­fore they fi­nally get them.

“that’s why the pass­port charges should go back to the pre­vi­ous m100 and m200.”

in re­sponse, min­is­ter rakuoane said the hike had been ne­ces­si­tated by the cost of pro­duc­ing the much-needed travel doc­u­ment.

“as a min­istry, we un­der­stand the Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions and are sat­is­fied with our work­ing re­la­tion­ship. How­ever, we were think­ing that those who can pay should pay, but we un­der­stand th­ese views are dif­fer­ent to those held by mem­bers of the Com­mit­tee,” ad­vo­cate rakuoane said.

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