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Govt. spends $600,000 to order new passports every year, report reveals

More than $600,000 is spent on new passports for Samoans each year, according to figures contained in a report. 

Some 20,000 new passports are ordered bi-annually to accommodate the country's demands.

The purchase of new passports comes under $610,000 allocated in the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet estimate budget 2019/2020. 

The allocated budget for the Ministry rose from $7.9 million from previous year to $8.5 million for the current financial year. 

The Ministry which also houses Cabinet, Head of State and Council of Deputies offices noted an additional $574,750 for this year’s operation. 

In response to queries from the Samoa Observer, the M.P.M.C. Chief Executive Officer, Agafili Shem Leo, explained the cost for new passports. 

The approved amount of $610,000 that is paid out to the Ministry annually covers passport booklets which have to be compliant with international security requirements. 

Agafili said depending on the demand for new passports, the Ministry often places orders twice per financial year. 

“The Ministry on average orders between 15,000 to 20,000 new passport booklets to cater for the demand of the country,” said the C.E.O. 

He noted the Samoan passports are processed and issued in Samoa through the main Immigration office and at the Samoa’s Consulate Office for New Zealand. 

Other associated costs that are covered in the allocated amount include; laminates, toner and printing accessories, insurance, freight and Customs duties. 

Under the budget allocation for the Ministry an estimate of $83,000 is set aside for Electronic Document Management System (E.D.M.S.).

E.D.M.S. is a computerised system designed by the Ministry in 2011 during its Institutional Strengthening Project to computertise the administrative process for all Cabinet documentations. 

Agafili pointed out that in the past there was huge volume of paper and printing required to facilitate Cabinet meetings given the magnitude of matters tendered across government for Cabinet’s consideration. 

Cabinet meets at least once every week. 

The electronic system has proven to have successfully replaced the volumes of paper and printing needed leading to substantial reduction to the Ministry’s spending said the C.E.O. 

“The Cabinet process has been computerised and the system has made the Ministry’s aim for a paper-less approach becomes a reality,” he said. 

He added the system supports government efforts to bolster greener strategies to respond to climate change.

Other spending for the Ministry includes a $14,400 fund for Special Pension annually.  

Agafili explained the special pension is for widows of the late members of the Council of Deputies. 

The fund was approved by Cabinet more than 10 years ago to accommodate the surviving widows of the late members. 

However, the C.E.O. said the policy is still active but it will eventually lapse in the future. 

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