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18.10.2005 General News

Passports To Be Phased Off

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Passports To Be Phased Off
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For the third time in the last decade, Ghanaian passports in use are to be phased out for new ones. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, announced in Rome last Sunday that in place of what were in use now, new Ghanaian passports with adequate security measures would be introduced shortly to prevent fraud, duplications, multiple acquisition and other forms of dubious deals. He pointed out that passport-related malpractices had become rampant of late and continued to undermine the credibility of the Ghanaian passport and lower the reputation of the country. Security concerns and similar activities of fraudsters were given as reasons for the introduction of new Ghanaian passports in the past. At a meeting organised in honour of the visiting Vice-President,Alhaji Aliu Mahama, at the residence of Ghana's Ambassador to Italy, Mr Osei-Adjei said in the new passports to be introduced,new features, known as biometrics,would be applied. He said they would include the blood group, biological and other data of the individual passport holder that would make it difficult for use by non-Ghanaians and illegal holders of Ghanaian passports. Mr Osei-Adjei said the contract for the replacement of the existing passports was being awarded to enable the replacement exercise to proceed in earnest. The deputy minister made the announcement in response to demands by Ghanaians in Italy for the review of the processes of replacement and renewal of lost and expired passports and the fees required to be paid,which they described as astronomical. The Ghana Embassy in Rome charges 500 euros for the replacement of lost passports and 200 euros for renewal. The deputy minister said efforts were being made to appoint an honorary consulate as part of efforts to streamline and simplify the issuance of passports to Ghanaian residents abroad. On bilateral relations and the suffering of Ghanaians abroad,Mr Osei-Adjei said trade, cultural exchange and education negotiations were being considered. Mr Kobby Aidoo, the President of the Rome Association of Ghana and spokesman for the Council of Ghana National Associations in Italy, expressed his appreciation to the Vice-President for making the efforts to meet them. He called on the government to initiate talks with the Italian authorities to improve the salaries and pensions of Ghanaians working in Italy.

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