By Sorie Fofana……………………………
Hon. Bashiru Sidikie of the main opposition SLPP (Sierra Leone Peoples Party) is quoted to have said in the Well of Parliament that the price of Passport is getting out of hands.
Another SLPP MP, the firebrand Hon. Paran Tarawally is also quoted to have said that, “there is no authority in the country that wields the right to increase the price of Passport in this country without going through the House of Parliament”. Both opposition MPs may have a point. But are they familiar with all the relevant facts? Absolutely Not!
Are the two SLPP MPs aware of an agreement signed between all the parties involved in this Passport issue? They are better advised to get hold of a copy of the agreement signed on 11th February, 2014 and amended on 3rd August, 2015 between the Government of Sierra Leone, De La Rue International Limited and Netpage (SL) Limited. That will be of great help to these opposition MPs.
In the agreement in 2014, the sale price of a unit of ePassport was put at US$120 or its equivalent in Leones.
That agreement was amended in 2015 and the sale price was reduced from US$ 120 to US$100 after the Government of Sierra Leone made a representation to De La Rue. De La Rue, it has to be emphasized, are the sole manufactures and producers of the ePassport for Sierra Leone.
Netpage (SL) Limited is just the agent appointed to sell the Passport on behalf of De La Rue. It has to be also emphasized that, Netpage does not determine the unit price of the Passport. That can be done and only done by De La Rue.
The question now is; how did we get to this point? De La Rue had stopped supplying Passports (Machine Readable Passports) to the Government of Sierra Leone because they are owed in excess of US$4M (four Million United States dollars).
De La Rue agreed to only resume the supply of Passports to the Immigration Department if a third party (in this case Netpage) agrees to be handling the sale and administrative aspect of the supply of Passports to the Sierra Leone Government.
Netpage is only receiving a commission on the sale of Passports from De La Rue which is referred to in modern day business parlance as “Administrative Fees”.
Therefore, there has been no new increase in the selling price of Passports. The only new development is that, De La Rue is now insisting that, the unit price of the Passports be sold at US$100 or at the prevailing exchange rate in Leone equivalent.
Most importantly, De La Rue have threatened to shut down their supply chain if the new unit price of the Passport is not implemented as provided for by the agreement.
It has to be also mentioned that, this agreement was thoroughly scrutinized by the Cabinet which is chaired by no less a person than His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
The point has to be also made that, the life span of the Passport is five years. Not five weeks, or five months!
Those SLPP MPs that are howling about this Passport issue are better advised to inform themselves properly before they begin to shout all over the place.
Due to the ongoing devaluation of the Leones against the United States Dollar, we wish to bring it to the notice of the general public that the selling price of the ePassport was fixed at US$100 which was more than le500, 000 last October Today to purchase US$100 the equivalent in Leones is Le750, 000.
The company has been producing the ePassport at a loss and in order to provide continued services and with removal of the subsidy of the Government since 2015 the effective price from 1st November, 2015 will be Le750,000.
In the event that the Leone appreciates and stabilizes, the price will be adjusted accordingly.
Netpage (SL) Limited