The Government of Sierra Leone owes the UK- based security printing firm, Thomas De La Rue the sum of US$4M (Four Million United States Dollars) for the printing of Passports.
When the Government defaulted in payment, the company decided to stop printing the country’s Passports until an agreement for payment was finalised.
Following pressure from the public for the issuance of Passports, the Government agreed for De La Rue to appoint a third party to be selling Passports on their behalf in Sierra Leone.
Netpage, a local company, was appointed by De La Rue to be collecting money from the sale of Passports in Sierra Leone. Netpage has nothing to do with the printing of our national Passports. All the company does is to collect money from the sale of Passports on behalf of De La Rue.
For the past one month, there has been an acute shortage of Passports in Sierra Leone. A spokesman for the Immigration Department told the Global Times yesterday that, a huge consignment of Passports has arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Quay in Freetown awaiting clearance.
A government spokesman admitted that, indeed they owe De La Rue a little under US$4M for the printing of the national Passports. “This debt came about as a result of the fact that, the Government of Sierra Leone was subsidizing the printing of Passports…I am happy to confirm to you that, Government no longer subsidizes for the printing of Passports”, he said.
Meanwhile, it has been reliably learnt that the fee for Passports will soon increase to US$100. “I can confirm that by September this year, all applicants for Sierra Leonean E-Passports will have to pay a flat rate of US$100”, an Immigration spokesman told the Global Times last night.