Internal Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odongo has cautioned the public against paying for express passports, fearing that many could be conned of their hard earned money.

Gen Odongo made the call on the floor of Parliament last evening where he was explaining the shortage of ordinary passport booklets in the country.

In his statement, Odongo attributed the shortage in ordinary passports to the yet to be realised migration from machine readable passports to the E-passports which had been planned for April 3, 2017. He now says that East Africa Member States have now extended the deadline to December 2017.

“In view of the above, it was logical to procure reasonable quantities to avoid financial loss due to over stocking of a passport that is about to be replaced,” said General Odongo.

He added that his ministry was also experiencing an unprecedented increase in the demand for ordinary passports especially from Ugandans seeking employment abroad from 450 to 700 daily applicants.

He says that whereas issuance of ordinary passports is currently restricted, a number of other travel documents such as the East African Passport, COMESA, the National Identity Cards and temporary travel documents were being issued.

An ordinary passport is issued upon payment of Shs 150,000 while the express one costs Shs 300,000.

The Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo also told Parliament that the new stock of ordinary passports is expected to arrive in a month’s time.

Minister Odongo’s revelation on Wednesday followed a heated debate on his statement to parliament communicating the low stock levels of ordinary passports as per the 13th June 2017 ministry’s press release.

He however said that his ministry was already taking the necessary steps to ensure that the required stock levels are replenished.

Odongo told parliament that the Attorney General William Byaruhanga has already cleared a new agreement to enable the Internal Affairs ministry replenish the stock of ordinary passports in one month.

The minister’s comments on the new stock of passports, however, came after legislators led by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had faulted government for what they called incompetence and poor planning. They also noted that the development was financially nonviable to the country.

Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said it was the first time he was listening to a General make a confession of incompetence before parliament.

“Could you tell parliament why we should not hold you responsible for incompetence and mismanagement? The minister is telling us he has failed at his duties,” said Mpuuga.