– File Photo

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior was informed on Wednesday that the backlog of passport applications in the country had crossed the 300,000 mark.

The Director General for Immigration and Passports, Syed Wajid Hussain Bokhari, told the meeting that a delay in the release of allocated budget was the major reason for the huge backlog.

He assured the committee, led by Senator Talha Mehmood, that delayed passports could be issued within a month if the finance ministry released the budget immediately and the Security Printing Corporation (SPC) provided 25,000 booklets per day.

He said about 15,000 people applied for passport every day but the department was getting only 5,000 blank copies from the SPC and more applications would pile up if the issue was not resolved.

The DG said the passport department generated over Rs14 billion per year in revenue but was facing difficulties in getting the allocated budget released from the finance ministry.

“As a result, we have been unable to make payments to the Security Printing Corporation and it has reduced the supply of booklets from the required 15,000 to 5,000 per day.”

He complained that the finance secretary was not even giving time to discuss the release of the budget. Besides, he said, his directorate was facing manpower crunch because it had over 160 vacancies.

The committee asked the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports to differentiate parliamentarians’ passport from that of officials because they were unnecessarily asked for a no-objection certificate by the airport authorities.

The meeting expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority and observed that in the last four years the body had compiled only a research report and a documentary on Swat though it had utilised allocations worth Rs500 million.

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