Passport fees will have to be increased significantly to enable the Registrar-General’s office to clear large backlogs.
This will result in the rapid processing of applications since materials used to make the passports are all imported and expensive, Government officials have said.
However, the Government is not seeking to make profit from the passports and will ensure they remain accessible in price, since the Passport Office is a public service, not a profit-making business.
Even on a switch to full cost recovery, not all costs are in foreign currency and dependent on the exchange rate since there are significant costs in local currency.
Costs like salaries for processing and printing staff are paid in local currency.
Only the actual special security paper, covers and fraud-resistant inks are imported.
It could not be established yesterday what each of these costs actually were and how they would be fed into a formula seeking cost recovery, as some countries now use.
But both Registrar-General Clemence Masango and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said yesterday that only 2 000 passports a day were now being produced.
Yet if adequate foreign currency could be made available or bought on the interbank market, the total could be more than doubled to 4 600, allowing the RGs Office to meet current demand and attack the backlog.
Currently, an ordinary passport costs $53 while an emergency passport costs $253. These charges were set in 2010 and Minister Kazembe said passports were basically being produced at “zero cost” to applicants.
Zimbabwe’s passports are the cheapest in the region.