Mass Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma has instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and the Department of Government Printing to immediately facilitate the printing and issuance of passports through the Government Printer.
Currently Sri Lankan passports are printed by an Indonesian company. The company charges around Rs. 1 billion to print one million passports which is sufficient for a period of a month and a half.
The Mass Media Ministry has pointed out to highly placed government officials that passports can be printed through the Government Printer if the necessary facilities are provided. They said that it would cost around Rs. 700 million to provide such facilities.
Furthermore, they had noted that a 64-page passport can be printed by the Government Printer at a cost of Rs. 350 - 450.
Solution to forex crisis
Former Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had also submitted a cabinet proposal last year to purchase necessary machinery to print passports and confidential government documents locally through the Department of Government Printing.
However, since the agreement with the foreign company would only expire in another two and half years, the former Media Minister's proposal had been eventually discarded.
Meanwhile, Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said that printing passports at the Government Press will retain the foreign exchange outflow in the country, especially at a time when the country is faced with a severe foreign exchange crisis.