NIS Blames Scarcity of Passport Booklet on FX Scarcity - THISDAY
BY Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has blamed the scarcity of passport booklet on the country’s policy on foreign exchange (FX).
The Comptroller-General (CG) of the service, Idris Jere, made this known at a public hearing organised by an Ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja, yesterday.
The committee was setup by the House to investigate the proposed domestication and processing of Nigerian international passport.
Addressing the lawmakers, the CG said the NIS generates FX from sale of passport abroad, but does not have access to FX to import booklets despite the funds generated.
He said Iris Smart Technology Ltd, the foreign company responsible for producing the passport has done very well given the conditions.
He also said that the presidential directive to commence production of passport locally by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) was a welcome development.
He, however, recommended that a proper exit plan be put in place for a smooth handover from Iris Smart Tech to prevent any breach of contract and production process.
“Foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and CBN’s refusal to grant access to FX for importation of the passport booklet. We generate forex from sale of passport, but we do not have access to buy same booklet and that is a challenge for NIS.
“The factors responsible for scarcity of passport include the inability to setup passport producing factory in Nigeria as its production is done abroad.
“The major seven component used for producing passports are sold in international market and the assemblage and production are done in Malaysia.
“This makes the production process solely dependent on FX and the scarcity of FX due to the fall in naira value is of major concern,” the CG said.
On his part, the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technology Ltd , Mr. Yinker Fisher, told the lawmakers that before the advent of the e-passport system, the Nigerian passport was marred with embarrassing irregularities and inconsistency under the watch of NSPM.
According to him, as a result of lack of capacity, NSPM outsourced the process to three companies which led to so many irregularities including passport colour and numbers.
He said under the administration of Iris Smart Technology Ltd, Nigerian passport was now regarded as one of the best in the international community.
The managing director said human factor in the process of producing passport is highly limited saying that even passport approval is granted by biometric.
He, however, alleged that there were plots by companies who lost the contract to produce the Nigerian passport at the bidding stage and some people on the corridor of power to thwart production by Iris Smart Tech.