MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is cutting off foreign travels as it looks for ways to replenish its already depleted passport revolving fund, reportedly “eaten up by travel allowances, insurance” and other expenses, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said Thursday.
“I am cutting off foreign travels. There’s tons of money there. No more conference trips. There’s Zoom. (I) will get (Budget Secretary Wendel) Avisado to help me realign. I stopped building renovation and capital expenses. Government needs every peso for vaccination,” he said in a tweet.
The Filipino top diplomat revealed on Wednesday that the government’s “entire passport revolving fund is gone” and its arrears to APO Production Unit, the country’s passport printing contractor, has reached PHP388 million.
“Our entire passport revolving fund is gone; and we are in arrears to APO P388 million for printing passport booklets; apparently the fund was eaten up by travel allowances (huh?), insurance, miscellany (what?),” he wrote in a tweet.
The official, in the meantime, appealed for patience, saying the agency will look for money to replenish the fund.
Under the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, the DFA may charge a service fee of not more than PHP250 for the processing and issuance of passports requiring special consideration, waiver or issuance beyond regular office hours.
The passport revolving fund collected from these fees may be used by the DFA “for the improvement of its passporting and consular services and other department services except travel and transportation allowances and expenses”. (PNA)