Government has painted a gloomy picture on when it will clear the debt it owes suppliers of booklets and other materials used in the production of passports.
Government owes the suppliers, TechnoBrain Limited, K7.1 billion.
The debt forced the company to suspend supply which also led to the slowdown in the production and issuance of passports at the Immigration Department.
Immigration spokesperson Joseph Chauwa told the media last week that due to the material stock out, the department has temporarily stopped processing normal passports.
He said the department is redirecting the remaining resources on printing passports whose applicants are undertaking emergency-related trips.
Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya could not indicate, in an interview on Friday, progress government has made in offsetting the debt so that normal production of passports resumes.
“Treasury is working with the Department of Immigration to clear all outstanding balances. Government is very committed to honour its obligations towards TechnoBrain,” said Msowoya.
“Obviously, now and again there may be arising issues of delayed payments, but it is not the intention of government not to pay the supplier.”
In August 2015, chief immigration officer Masauko Medi told the Business and Finance Committee of Parliament that issuance of passports had ground to a halt because the supplier had stopped supplying them with the materials.
Medi further said the department was no longer collecting revenues from passport issuance.