The already long wait for new passport books is expecting a further delay after the government fails to remit the funds to the supplier before the passports are dispatched to Honiara.
SBMOnline can confirm that the ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration had submitted the invoice to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury several weeks ago but they only found out yesterday that MoFT had not remitted the money to the supplier overseas – even though they were told that they had already transferred the funds.
As a result of the delay, the 5,000 new passport books remain with the supplier awaiting the more than $4m payment from the government before they are shipped to Honiara.
Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration confirmed to SBMOnline that the payment had not been made by finance and they are pressurising them to urgently pay up the bill.
The delay has affected many people who applied for new passports especially those applying for seasonal work in Australia and New Zealand.
The suppliers could only release the passports if the money is wired.
One potential applicant said: “We remain in the dark and it has been for so long now and it is frustrating. We were told not to make any new applications.”
On June 23, the Ministry of Commerce put up a public notice saying: “Now we are running out of new blank e-passport books. Therefore, as of the coming weeks there will be no printing of passports, means no enrolment (no new application) as well, until we receive our new order. We will only issue out all the ready printed books in the coming weeks while waiting for the passport books to arrive.”
The demand for passport remains high as more people are applying for jobs under the seasonal work schemes in Australia, New Zealand and some in Canada. There are also some who applied for passports following the passage of the dual citizenship bill.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration Riley Mesepitu confirms that the delay has really affected the wok of his ministry regarding the issuing of new passports.
SBMOnline understands that the passports are produced in Malaysia.