Delay in issuance of passports causing hardships to public
Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Wednesday took serious notice of delay in issuance of passports, saying immediate measures need to be adopted to ensure its early delivery to applicants.
Despite payment of Rs. 5,000 as urgent fee, people are unable to get their passports while those who submit an ordinary fee of Rs. 300 have to wait even for months which is not right and fair, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Talha Mahmood said.
He was chairing the meeting which was also attended by Senators Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamrah, Sardar Ali Khan and Fateh Muhammad Hassani, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Director General Passports and representatives of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Islamabad. He described affairs of Directorate General of Immigration and Passports headquarters in Islamabad as total confusing due to which people are suffering.
Giving a briefing, Director General Passport and Immigration, Wajid Ali Bukhari said at present the issuance of passports has been delayed as Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC), Karachi reduced the supply of passport booklets from 15,000 to 5,000 per day in September 2012 due to non-payment of their outstanding dues on account of printing of passport booklets and other travel documents. He said after detailed deliberations PSPC agreed to provide 15000 passport booklets per day from October 1 to 13, 2012 and 10,000 booklets per day during the month of November, subject to condition that in case their outstanding dues are not cleared, PSPC will not be able to continue regular supply of booklets beyond November 30, 2012.
He said the efforts are being made to clear outstanding dues of PSPC and arrears have since been cleared to some extent and for payment of remaining dues, matter has been taken up with Finance Division for seeking approval for 100% payment out of sanctioned budget allocations
in relaxation of limit fixed on quarterly basis so as to clear the outstanding liabilities and restoration of normal supply of passport booklets. He further informed that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also directed Finance Division regarding payment of outstanding liabilities of PSPC on top priority basis and to report compliance.
The matter is under active consideration and as soon as approval from Finance Division is received the outstanding liability of PSPC will be cleared and normal supply of passport booklets will be restored by the PSPC.
Thereafter, the Department will be in a position to observe normal schedule of delivery of passports to the applicants.
On the issue of corruption, the DG said for controlling corruption provincial authorities have been asked to remove the touts or agents sitting outside premises of Regional Passport Offices on permanent basis. The zonal heads have also been directed to effectively monitor the working of RPOs, falling under the jurisdiction and also conduct surprise checks regularly to improve functioning of office.
The DG said he has also conducted surprise checks of RPOs and action was taken against the defaulting officers and officials.
The Committee was also informed that passport office has been contributing Rs. 14 billion to national exchequer every year but printing of passport funds which is Rs. 597 million were being delayed causing hardships for the applicants. The committee was also informed that there is also a backlog of 0.2 million passports and reason of this mess is the same that is shortage of booklets and delay in release of finds. "It is astonishing that a department earning Rs. 14 billion was facing delay in release of funds," Senator Talha and other members of the committee remarked.