President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf says reports are still emerging here about “false passports” that have not been officially issued, but are out in the hands of individuals, noting that she does not know where they are issued, how they are issued and who issues them.
While launching the Liberian Biometric E-passport at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia Friday, 4 August, Mrs. Sirleaf warned personnel at the Bureau of Passports and Visas that such act must stop.
“Not because of the loss of revenue, as important as that is, but because it gets into the hands of wrong people – criminals – thereby undermining the credibility and reputation of the country,” President Sirleaf warns.
The President further notes that bad reports are coming out against the Bureau of Passports and Visas, a section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that once got revamped under the watch of former passport director Madam Mary Broh.
“I hear it is slipping back again. Let me put you on warning; you are here to serve the people with honesty, integrity and efficiency,” Mrs. Sirleaf reminds personnel at the passport division.
She asks Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara to sit with the Bureau’s staff and hear from them too about their challenges, noting that maybe government needs to do more for them. “We need to hear some of your issues so we can address those issues in all fairness to you,” she says.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara informed President Sirleaf that the launch of the international standardized E-Passport was another piece of the Ministry’s deliverables.
She discloses that plans are underway to have passport centers in South Africa and Ethiopia by the end of this year. A passport center is to shortly open in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, she adds.
“We are moving forward and we want to thank you for the opportunity of serving in your administration,” she informed the President. Giving the background of the new e-Passport and the opening of the Expedited Service Center, the Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs, Cllr. Deweh E. Gray informed President Sirleaf that the whole negotiating exercise with Buck Press Limited had been inter-agency collaboration including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice,
Liberia Revenue Authority, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, National Security Agency, and others. Touching on the Expedited Application Service Center now established, she disclosed that applicants who are urgently in need of a passport can now come in and process their applications and pay an expedited service charge of US$50.00 in addition to the passport fee and be guaranteed same day delivery.
Applicants for the new E-Passport can also apply online at www.mofa.gov.lr. Since the introduction of the biometric passport, Liberian and foreign security operatives have easily detected all forgery attempts in the Liberian passport, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.
President Sirleaf became the first recipient of the new travel document, having performed the official launch along with the opening of the Expedited Application Service Center at the Bureau of Passports and Visas, Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.