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General News of Thursday, 30 June 2011

Source: GNA

The issuing of biometric passports is centralized - Kpodo

Accra, June 30, GNA - Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Chris Kpodo on Wednesday said the issuance of the biometric passport was at the moment centralized. He said though plans were ripe to have the system decentralized, the centres established in the regions were only Biometric Passport Application Centres.

He said apart from the Greater Accra Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, Sekondi in the Western Region and Tamale in the Northern Region were not given the mandate to issue passport but to take biometric data of prospective applicants and pass them on to Accra for issuance. "The regions are processing centres not issuing cenres" he said. He said these centres were all operational and applicants in those regions no longer needed to travel to Accra to obtain passports, though some applicants did that out of choice or ignorance about the existence of the centres.

He disclosed that the centre in the Volta Region would become operational by the end of July 2011. Mr Chris Kpodo who was speaking on the floor of parliament during question time, said though the regional centres were established to deal with the congestion in Accra, some found it convenient to travel to Accra adding that the phenomenon was putting a lot of pressure on the Accra office.

"Our diplomatic missions abroad have been provided with the standard list of equipment required for them to process biometric passports and directed to source for the hardware in their prospective areas of accreditation," he said.

Mr Kpodo noted, however, that Ghana's missions abroad were not yet mandated with the issuance of passports but served as biometric Passport Application Centres which were to furnish the Accra office with biometric data of applicants for Accra to issue the passports. He stated that the project's company, Buck Press, would visit the missions for installation and training of staff to kick start the processing of biometric passports. "The software can only be installed by Buck Press, hence the visit," he explained. 30 June 11