The Defense and Internal Affairs Committee want government to provide Shillings 28billion to kick-start activities leading to the issuance of E-Passports. According to the committee report, at least Shillings 28 billion is needed for setting up the initial infrastructure for the production of E-Passports.
The full implementation of the project requires US$ 100 million, which is unfunded in the 2017/2018 financial year budget. The issuance of E-passport by the National Citizen and Immigration Control was planned to start by January 2017. However, the project failed to take off due to lack of funds.
Six Heads of the East African Community (EAC) partner States launched the new electronic passports during the 17th Ordinary Summit meeting. They directed partner states to commence issuance of e-passports by January 2017 with a view of phasing out the old passports by December 2018.
According to the Defense Committee, many countries have transited from paper passports to e-passports but Uganda is yet to achieve this. “Implementation of e-passport will save government annual expenditure on purchase of empty passport booklets and associated wear and tear of printing machines deployed internally and externally.” reads part of the committee report tabled before parliament by the Chairperson, Judith Nabakooba.
The committee report also shows that government was considering negotiating a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement as an alternative to outright financing but this has taken long despite the presence of a legal framework on PPP.
The committee now wants government through the finance ministry to provide Shillings 28 billion Shillings in the 2017/2018 financial year to kick-start the process of issuance of e-passports. National Citizen and Immigration Control has in the past listed advantages of an e-passport citing its enhanced security features that make it harder to forge.
The e-passport comes with an electric chip that contains the owner’s facial features, fingerprints and others. It is expected to speed up the process and save East Africans the inconvenience of filling in entry and exit forms at the EAC boarders. The electronic passports are expected to cost just as much as the old passports.
Source: Uganda Radio Network