Government launches passport decentralization project
By Kruah Thompson
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched additional six passport application centers in the diaspora for Liberians residing abroad.
Making the disclosure Thursday at the MICAT regular press briefing in Monrovia, Foreign Minister Dee Maxwell Kameyah, said the initiative is intended to ease constraints Liberians outside the country face in obtaining Liberian passports.
He named Chicago and Los Angeles in the United States of America, South Africa, India, Austria and Nairobi, Kanya as countries in which centers have been launched, adding that it is in connection to providing efficacy and expenditure services to Liberians in the diaspora wanting to acquire a passport.
Minister Kameyah also disclosed that government has received several calls from individuals outside Liberia, recommending opening of additional passport centers across the world.
He said those in the diaspora will be required to pay US$160 for a passport, noting US$100 of the amount will remain with the counseling office, while the balance of Sixty United States Dollars will be sent to government account.
The Foreign Minister revealed that the passport application centers are being opened under a contracting frame called VFS Global, under its arrangement with Buck Press, an outsourcing and technology services specialist company that works with several government and diplomatic missions worldwide.
Kemayeh, noted that VFS Global will also under its arrangement with Buck Press use the company’s Licensed software to only capture the biometrics of applicants and forward all documentation to Monrovia for processing of passports.
According to him, the initiative is also part of the ministry’s intention to carry out such reform as part of President George Weah’s Manifesto to have things in the best interest of all Liberians.
Meanwhile, the Minister, who is also Dean of the Liberian Cabinet, further disclosed that government is expected to launch additional 20 application centers on February 23, but did not say where.
He added that the Government of Liberia currently has eight passport application “location centers” across the world, including the Embassy of Liberia in Accra, Ghana, Nigeria, China, London, Belgium, Washington, DC, United States of America, Counsel General in New- York, and Honorary Counsel General in Minnesota, respectively.
Kameyah added in the absence of travel documents, the life of every Liberian will not be complete.
The Liberian government has been linked to sales of Liberian Diplomatic Passports to individuals with dubious characters, including foreigners. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the U.S. is currently investigating a Liberian, who was arrested last year in America with diplomatic passport. The suspect has made concessions to the names of accomplices at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia. Editing by Jonathan Browne