Respite As FG, Immigration Move To Clear N16bn Passport Debt

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Worried by difficulties surrounding the scarcity of e-passport booklets due to non-payment of outstanding production debts to vendors and major stakeholders involved in the value chain, the Federal Government and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) have initiated ways to offset the N16bn debt to boost production of passports.

LEADERSHIP learnt authoritatively, that the Federal Government has held several meetings with the NIS and concerned stakeholders to address the embarrassing situation.

According to the source, “the Federal Government and the NIS had in a response to a LEADERSHIP report, called for dialogue on the part of all critical stakeholders. The government promised to do something regarding the bureaucratic bottlenecks which have been responsible for delays in payments for services rendered.”

While revealing that there is another leg to the discussions, the source disclosed further, that the Nigeria Customs Service, and the Immigration Service were working in synergy as government institutions to address the challenges since both are expected to key into the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

Recall that LEADERSHIP reported three weeks ago, that the shortage of the passport booklets was caused by the illegal monthly deductions of 50 per cent fund from the income paid into the NIS Treasury Single Account (TSA) from passport sales, specifically opened for the acquisition of the e-passports, by the Minister of Finance and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF).

LEADERSHIP had quoted a source at the Passport Office of NIS headquarters as explaining that the misconception is that the gross income paid by passport applicants goes directly to the NIS TSA, from where the service is supposed to make payment to all stakeholders involved in the passport production value chain.

The source, had lamented that before the said income drops, the federal government, which regards the money as net income, takes out 50 per cent while leaving the NIS with nothing reasonable to pay its vendors and other stakeholders.

He said, “Let me give you an example, the cost of the 32-page passport booklet outside Nigeria is $132, while the cost of the 64-page category is $230. If you apply outside Nigeria and you pay in dollars, the money goes straight into the Federal Account which is shared amongst the three tiers of government every month by the Federation Account Committee (FAAC).”

He further revealed then that, “Our service providers are owed over N16 billion while printed booklets are stuck in warehouses due to our inability to offset these huge debts.”

“The Customs Service, DHL and two Nigerian banks are amongst service providers that are insisting on the payment of their outstanding N16 billion balance before the documents would be released to us…

“As a matter of fact, we are meant to understand that the manufacturing firms based Slovenia, Malaysia, and another in Malta handling the e-passport projects are yet to be reimbursed in line with our agreement to always make payment two weeks after printing and supplying the e-passports,” he stated.

Giving more insight about the strategies being explored, the top source said, “I believe on the basis of the synergy, (payments or no payments) the booklets in the warehouses of the Nigeria Customs Service would be released to the NIS very soon.


About Author

Comments are closed.