Friday, July 19, 2024

Attorney General Nyirenda’s brilliance to translate to reduction of Malawi passport price

Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda.

Three days ago, the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, confirmed to the Malawi nation that the money which some Malawi government officials were duped into paying for a butchery in the United Kingdom under the pretense that they were paying for a fertilizer deal for the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) will be returned to Malawi, a court in Germany made the final order to seize the ill-gotten money from an account there back to Malawi government.

As if the above brilliance is not enough, the Attorney General has pulled yet another victory demonstrating unequivocally that this young man, Nyirenda, is goal-oriented and that he is serious about his work. Nyirenda says he expects the price of passports to go down following the termination of the $60.8 million (about K72 billion) electronic passports contract with Techno Brain Limited in 2021.

In an interview, the Attorney General said that the Malawi Government has saved $26 million (about K28 billion) since it cut ties with Techno Brain Limited.

He said: “So, my expectation is that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services will be reducing the charges for passports.

“I am not so sure whether they can reduce by K20 000 or whatever but that is the expectation. We are saving $26 million [K28 billion] from that deal.”

Nyirenda said government and Techno Brain signed contract settlement agreement that will see government paying about $22 million (about K23 billion) instead of $60.8 million (K72 billion) that Techno Brain was requesting for the supply of electronic passports, printing equipment and passport books.

He said since government is acquiring the electronic passports system, including passport books at a cheaper cost, it should reflect in the price that Malawians are accessing the passports.

“My expectation is these gains should be passed on to the members of the public,” said Nyirenda.

While confirming that they are looking at the possibility of reducing the cost of passports, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services director general Charles Kalumo said final the decision will be made by “relevant authorities”. He could not specify who he meant.

He said: “I am a mere civil servant. There are procedures that have to be followed on this matter. We will communicate if there is a change but I can’t tell when and how much it will cost.”

Malawi terminated Techno Brain’s passport contract with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services on December 7 2021 owing to alleged poor handling of the contract.

Techno Brain signed the contract in March 2019 during the then governing Democratic Progressive Party administration.

The deal was for Techno Brain Global FZE of the United Arab Emirates to upgrade the country’s passport issuance system.

But documentation at the time showed that Techno Brain was sourcing the passport booklets from Vienna,  Austria where the average unit cost of each booklet was $9.13 (about K7 221.83) and from Singapore where the cost was around $1.73 (about K1 368.43)

The supplier was then selling each booklet to the Malawi Government at $76 (about K60 166), including the supply of ink ribbons and 1 600 crystagrams, a series of holographic images required for the printing of e-passport booklets

Rough calculations show that Techno Brain was making a profit of between $66.87 (about K52 894.17) and $74.27(about K58 708.02) per passport booklet supplied to Malawi.


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