The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has announced an increase in the cost of obtaining an ECOWAS Biometric Passport. The new fee is US$50 and the regulation takes effect on April 30. In a release issued by the Finance and Development Planning Ministry on Monday, the ministry maintained that it increased the fees in keeping with law.
Stated the MOFDP release: "Consolidated Tax amendment Act of Liberia, Government Agency Fees, Section 2102 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fixed Fees, stipulates that: "The fees for the following services/instruments of the Foreign Affairs Ministry shall be as by regulation prescribed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the minister of Finance and Development Planning and shall be assessed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and paid regularly to the Liberia Revenue Authority for deposit into the account of the government."
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has therefore authorized the Ministry of Foreign affairs to begin such collection of the new fees on its stipulated timeline, but did not state whether there will be an increase in the number of years of validity.
Stated the Finance Ministry stated: "This administrative regulation hereby institutes the empowerment of the ministry of Foreign Affairs to regulate and assess the new passport fee from a biometric passport applicant who then proceeds to the collection Window at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) for the collection of said fees and subsequent deposit into the consolidated fund in accordance with section 7 of the Revenue Code of Liberia, prior to the issuance of said passport by the MFA in keeping with MFA passport Regulation."
At the Ministry of Information regular Press Briefing on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, Boakai Kanneh, said there will be a new biometric passport which will cost US$50, replacing the current manual one which costs US$23. Kanneh indicated that the new measure is part of the ongoing transformation at the ministry's Bureau of Passport and Visas to enhance service delivery and conform to international standard.
He said people applying for the biometric passport will be required to appear in person because their fingerprint, and other biometric details will be taken and the passport will be issued in five working days. Liberia has begun issuing biometric passports at some of its embassies abroad. On March 14, 2015, the Government of Liberia launched the Liberian Biometric ECOWAS Passports Application Center (PAC) in the Schengen Zone of Europe at the Liberian Embassy near Brussels, Belgium.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened centers for the issuance of bio-metric passports in Washington D.C., New York and Belgium. The government has disclosed that additional centers will be opened in Accra, Ghana, Abuja, Nigeria and other countries and it will also introduce a mobile service delivery system soon. But the increase in the fees of the Liberian/ECOWAS passport would no doubt cause a backlash among many Liberians as many have complained of financial difficulties due to the deadly Ebola crisis.