The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday issued another statement on the bungled passport incident clarifying the number of misprinted copies and the cost of printing, stressing that it was not trying to conceal anything.
The ministry’s statement apologized for misprinting 550,000 biometric passports that mistakenly featured an image of Washington Dulles International Airport instead of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, but said it has not paid the printing cost of NT$220 million (US$7.4 million).
Following the discovery of the mistake, the ministry announced that it would recall 200,000 botched copies and reprint the passport.
However, New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) on Saturday challenged the ministry’s numbers, saying the number of misprinted copies was actually 550,000 more than the 200,000 claimed by the ministry, and the government had to shoulder an estimated loss of NT$220 million.
The ministry on Saturday, in response to Huang’s statement, said its Bureau of Consular Affairs had placed a total order of 550,000 copies for the next-generation biometric passport with the Central Engraving and Printing Plant, but had only officially taken delivery of 200,000 misprinted copies.
The copies that have been received would be returned and reprinted, and the bureau had yet to pay the NT$80.8 million printing cost, it said.
The bureau would only pay for the remaining 350,000 copies after delivery and verification, it added.
In the statement issued yesterday, the ministry again clarified the issue, saying the bureau had placed an order for 650,000 copies of traditional passports and 550,000 copies of biometric passports, totaling NT$480 million.
The biometric passports were to cost NT$220 million, it said.
The announcement was about the first batch of 200,000 copies received, the ministry said, adding that it did not attempt to withhold information and all procurement information is publicly accessible on the government procurement Web site.
Late last night, the ministry told a news conference that to not waste tax money, the botched copies will not be reprinted; instead a special sticker will be pasted over the page that features the wrong image.
The sticker will include anti-counterfeit design elements and therefore will not compromise passport security, it added.
Source: Taiwan Times