As requested by the parent agreement, Members of Parliament have yesterday approved the amendment of Clause 5 on the agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and NETPAGE (SL) Limited for the production of e-passports.
According to ‘Clause 5′ of the agreement the initial sales price of the e-passport shall be the equivalent of $120 USD in Leones and this to be reviewed periodically based on the inflation rate in Sierra Leone.
According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Alfred Palo Conteh, the original agreement is dated 11 February 2014, for the provision of e-passports, adding that the trust of the agreement is on Clause 5 of the agreement that has to do with the payment.
“Because the Clause was not too clear, we decided that an amendment should be made to Clause 5,” he said. He explained how the agreement of 3 August 2015 came into being.
The Minister disclosed that the price was reduced from $120 USD to $100 USD and Clause 5 was made clearer by stating “as the price for the e-passport is $100 USD or the equivalent in Leones, which could be reviewed periodically based on the inflation rate in the country.”
He referenced when the original agreement was signed and the exchange rate was Le5,000 so the price for the passport by then was Le500,000 but now because the Leones has lost value, as $1 USD is now Le750 the cost of e-passport according to the new amendment is now Le750,000.
Making his contribution on the debate on the ratification on the amendment before them, Hon Paran Tarawally, disclosed that the issue of the e-passport contract has been very contentious, among which has to do with pricing and uniformity.
He explained that in the original agreement the cost of one e-passport is $120 USD and one thing that impressed him is the fact that the Government through the Internal Ministry is now listening to the cry of the people by reducing the sales price from $120 USD to $100 USD.
Hon Paran appealed to the Minister to ensure that the other party to the contract does not use his own sole discretion to tag the US dollar rate, explaining that they need to ensure whenever the equivalent of dollar is quoted it should be in compliance with the Bank of Sierra Leone exchange rate.
Digressing on the issue further, Hon Foday Rado Yokie, disclosed that the cost of the e-passport will be determine by the prevailing market price, explaining that as a businessman it is not the Bank rate that will determine but the buying rate.
“To me what is more important is for us as a government, as a people to ensure that we increase our export rate so that we have more dollars which will force the price to dollar to go down, “that is how we would have the automatic reversal of the cost of the e-passport”.
Both the acting Minority Leader Hon Ansu Kaikai and the Leader of the House and Government Business, Hon Leonard Fofanah supported the approval of the amendment on the said agreement.