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Treasury to cede billions to Immigration to solve passport crisis

The Department of Immigration and Citizen Services could retain billions of shillings collected annually in fees for various documents issued by the state beginning the next financial year.

According to recommendations by the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee, the department would be allowed to retain 20pc of total revenue it collects from among others, issuance of passports, Identity Cards, birth certificates and death certificates in FY2024/25.

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The Ndindi Nyoro led committee said revenue retention by the department will help address funding challenges that have been attributed to the delays in issuance of the documents.

“Before finalization of the Annual Estimates for FY2024-2025, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury to enhance the Appropriation-in-Aid for the Department from the current Kshs 1.3 billon to 20pc of all the revenues it generates to the Exchequer through issuance of documents,” said the Committee in the Report on the Budget Policy Statement for FY2024/2025 and the Medium Term tabled in Parliament on Tuesday last week.

The department has been under fire in recent years over delays in issuing passports to Kenyans seeking to travel outside the country despite pledges by the Interior Ministry that the process will be streamlined.

If approved, the department will retain Ksh 3.98 billion from estimated fees collection in the coming financial year beginning July 1, 2024.

The new funding proposal means the Department of Immigration and Citizen Services will realize a 206.2pc increase in funding from FY2024/25 estimates.

According to the committee, despite Kenyans paying Ksh 5 billion for passports through e-citizen platform as of February 23, 2024, Immigration Department was unable to print and issue at least 800,000 passports due to lack of booklets.

“The Committee noted that failure to transfer resources to the department promptly has affected service delivery and inconvenienced many Kenyans,” the committee stated.

This comes as Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok gave yet another assurance to Kenyans who have been waiting to get their passports for months that the hitches are being resolved urgently.

“I want to say in the next three months we will finish this passport issue and everybody will get their passport within one month when they apply,” he added.

The government has since hiked the fees it charges for various documents effective March 1, 2024.

For instance, a 34-page passport now costs Ksh 15,000 up from Ksh 4,500 previously while a 66-page will cost applicants Ksh 12,500 from Ksh 7,500.

It will also cost you Ksh 20,000 to replace a lost passport from Ksh 12,000 previously while replacing mutilated valid passport will cost Ksh 20,000 from Ksh 10,000.

Treasury estimates for FY2024/25 shows the department has been allocated a total of Ksh 15.9 billon with migration and citizen services receiving Ksh 6.9 billion, population management services Ksh 7.8 billion and general planning and administration Ksh 1.2 billon.

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