House panel tells MoFA to provide subsidized passport for migrant workers

Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Labor has directed the government to make necessary preparations to categorize passports so that they could be provided at a cheaper price to migrant workers requiring less frequent travels.

A meeting of the Committee held at Singha Durbar on Sunday directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to study the possibility of introducing two different passports with a provision of providing passport with lesser pages at a cheaper price. The directive was given after holding discussions with Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and Director General of Department of Passport Lok Bahadur Thapa on various issues related to passports including quality, security features and pages of the machine readable passports.

According to committee member Rajan Bhattarai, the meeting was held to discuss various passport-related issues such as pages, quality, security features and colors. “Although the price of printing Nepali passport is cheapest in entire Asia, Nepalis have been paying highest fees for the passports among the South Asian countries. We have suggested to MoFA to come up with two different categories of passports so that migrant workers can be provided passports by charging a cheaper fee,” he said.

Currently, Nepali machine readable passport that is valid for 10 years has a total of 32 pages, often requiring frequent travelers to get new passports every year or so. While the frequent travelers have complained that 32 pages are not enough, migrant workers, who require not much travel, have complained that the passport fee is expensive.

The meeting had raised the issue of Nepalese missions abroad charging differently to those applying MRP from different countries. Besides suggesting to the MoFA to bring uniformity in the passport fee, the parliamentary committee also suggested to the government to start buying its own fixed property in different diplomatic missions abroad so that the embassy and staff do not have to live in rented houses.

Source: Myrepublica