DUSHANBE, April 21, 2010, Asia-Plus  -- The Majlisi Namoyandagon (Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament) Committee on Economy, Budget, Finance and Taxes held an enlarged meeting on April 21 to consider a bill requiring amendments to the country’s law on the national budget for 2010, according to the Majlisi Namoyandagon press service.

Speaking at the meeting, MP Safarali Gulov noted that amendments proposed to the law were connected with providing tax privileges for delivery of the equipment for collecting biometric information and printing blank diplomatic biometric passports to the country.  According to him, the bill has been endorsed by all committees of the parliament’s lower house.

We will recall that biometric passports were introduced in Tajikistan on February 1, 2010.  To print the first bulk of biometric passports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has taken a 24 million somoni (equivalent to US$6 million) credit from the Government.  The credit is given to the ministry for three years.  Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi told reporters at a news conference in Dushanbe on February 1 that the ministry has set fees for biometric passports taking into account the credit.  The fee for diplomatic biometric passports is US$125.00, the fee for the service biometric passport is US$100.00 and the fee for ordinary Tajik biometric passport is US$75.00, the minister said.

As of February 1, 2010, 100,000 blank biometric passports, including 20,000 blank diplomatic biometric passports, 20,000 blank service biometric passports and 60,000 blank ordinary biometric passports, were printed.  The ordinary Tajik biometric passport is issued for 10 years, while the diplomatic and service biometric passports are issued for 5 years.

Five outlets for collection of biometric information have been opened in the country: one at the MFA consulate department with two operators; one at the Interior Ministry migration service with four operators; and three in Khorog, Khujand and Qurghon Teppa with two operators each.

Current diplomatic, service and ordinary Tajik passports will still remain valid along with the biometric passports that were introduced on February 1.  The MFA officials say it is connected with the fact that it is still impossible to provide all Tajik nationals with the biometric passports.  The biometric passports will be introduced gradually.