High-Price E-Passports Under Fire

DENPASAR

Biometric passports – popularly called e-passports – start being introduced for Indonesian citizens this year, with 10,000 released for used in the first batch.

Under international agreements all countries must have e-passports by 2015. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand already issue only biometric passports, but Indonesia has opted to stay with a two-type passport system.

The new e-passports are more expensive because they contain a data chip and other electronic material.

Consumer advocate Ketut Udi Payudi, head of the Bali Consumers Foundation, said this week the Rp420,000 (US$46) cost for a 24-page e-passport (Rp670,000 or $74 for a 48-page version) was 300 percent more expensive than a standard passport and was too high for many travellers.

“This is not fair. Everyone thinks that people who go overseas are only the rich. But there are many housemaids who go overseas too,” he said.

Initially e-passports will be available at immigration offices in Jakarta, Surabaya and Semarang.

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