Blantyre — The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services has disclosed plans of hiking passport fee as well as travel documents following their proposal to government.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Monday, Public Relations Officer Joseph Chawuwa said towards the end of every national budget the department is requested by treasury to submit revised fees for the services they offer.
"We were asked to propose any revisions that will reflect the true cost of the services that we offer and passport was identified as one of the services to be revised.
"The last time that government revised passport fee was in 2009. At that time the production of passport was almost 100 dollars.
"Since materials used for production of passport are mostly imported, the likes of passport booklets and other passport consumables," Chawuwa said.
He further said in the last revision, a dollar was around K480.00 and the passport fee was K48, 500.
"As of now the exchange rate has really gone up to around K800 to a dollar. Whenever there is change in the rate there is need for revision of prices.
"Looking at this, one would say that government is offering passports at subsided fee as the rest is being paid by the government," Chawuwa said.
He therefore said the revision of the fee is up to government whether to take the proposed fee on board or to reduce it.
A concerned citizen, Thoko Subilo said hiking of the passport fee by the Department of Immigration will further strain Malawians.
"If the fee of the passport will go up, we will have nowhere to run to. As it is already, most people who acquire passports do so to search for employment outside the country or for trade," Subilo said.
Another concerned citizen, Bruno Mlanje from Bangwe said it is very sad to hear such news looking at the way things are now.
"I did not plan to have a passport this month but the moment I heard about the plan to hike the fee I had to borrow money to secure one for myself.
"How about our friends who even failed to come when the price was k48, 500? It means there is no hope that they will ever secure one.
"Lack of unemployment has made many to go and search for jobs in neighbouring countries. Now it will be a combination of lack of jobs at the same time lack of a travel document or passport," Mlanje said.
With the rumour that the fee will be soon hiked, there are crowds outside immigrations offices submitting their applications hoping to get the passport before the revised fee.