Passport laws to be revised to reduce delays: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Friday that the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports should review its current laws to further facilitate citizens and meet new challenges.

“We are living in the 21st century, but relevant laws of the department are old,” he said during a briefing given by Immigration and Passports Director General Usman Akhtar Bajwa.

The minister asked the DG to take all the stakeholders on board and update relevant laws which were too old and make them simple and effective.

“The agent mafia and delay in the issuance of passport to the public should be eliminated now. There should be no compromise on black sheep in the department,” he said.

Usman Akhtar Bajwa briefed that the Immigration and Passport Office had issued 4.3 million passports in a year and generated revenue of over Rs 20 billion.

He said the department had issued 91 citizenship certificates and dealt with 3,717 renunciation cases in 2016-17. There were two cases of naturalization of Somali citizens in 2014-15.

The DG said that there were seven zones of the department. Three are in Punjab and one each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Regarding the achievements of Passport Office from the period 2013 to 2017, he said that the number of passports had increased by 30 percent as compared to previous five years and increase in the revenue was 35 percent.

In all, 84 Regional Passport Offices (RPOs) out of 164 and 74 Foreign Missions out of 91 were established during the tenure of the present government, he added.

To reduce queues, he said that all the branches of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 15 major cities were collecting passport fee and payment of passport fee could also be made through NBP Mobile/branchless banking service.

Usman Akhtar said the other initiative was to eliminate queues with the provision of facilities of Executive Passport Offices, RPOs at district level, online passport renewal outside Pakistan, home delivery service in the country and home delivery service for online applicants abroad.

To improve the customers awareness, he said there were several steps that had been taken including the launch of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) in six languages which received 300 calls per day.

He said the Passport and Immigration had also started SMS Rabta Service for proactively seeking feedback from every applicant and over 250,000 SMS were sent per month. The feedback system received 18000 to 25000 replies per month.

Usman Akhtar said that administrative action has been taken on consistent complaints and over 65 officials including in-charges at Regional Passport Offices were replaced.

Regarding the upgradation of Machine Readable Passport to E-Passport, the Director General said that Prime Minister had approved launch of the E-Passport project.

He said under the project, initially the validity of the official and diplomatic E-Passports will be for 10 years.

The minister assured full support to the DG to resolve the administrative and financial issues on priority basis.



Source by dailytimes..