Former FO for Immigration Cites Issues with Visa Reconciliation

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Updated: February 15, 2017

According to the Former Finance Officer in the Immigration Department, Teresita Castellanos, procedures needed to be adjusted within the immigration department to address several matters of concern. One of those matters was the procedure of reconciliation of visa stickers and visa stubs from different immigration offices in all districts and missions abroad.

MARK LIZARRAGA

“When did the VISA stubs and the VISA foils come into effect?”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“I will give a copy it came into effect the 1st of March 2013.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

“Was there a system before March to record how visas were issued? Did you have a register, did you have something in place before March.”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“Yes we have at the headquarters we have a ledger book.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

“And you kept a track of that and you reconciled it with receipts etc to see if the government was collecting the revenues.”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“Yes.”

MARK LIZARRAGA

“You did that, that was part of your responsibility, okay then the VISA foils came into effect or we started with this new system and VISA foils were issued.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Just to clarify with respect to the ledger, that ledger related to only visas issued in Belize,”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“That recorded all the visas within Belize and the foreign nations, it was 25,000 visas and as we issue it had a reducing balance. All on that ledger all visas were entered.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“But what senator Lizaraga also asked you is the reconciliation so how regularly did you reconcile? If you sent I don’t know in what batch, 500 to London when will London report the use of any of those visas to you so that you could reconcile and know how many visas are actually issued by the mission.”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“Yes most missions sent in monthly or quarterly reports and some only did so when they did another requisition when it was all exhausted to replenish it then they would send the report at the time.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“And you kept all that reconciliation but there was no audit of the missions abroad was there?”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“The auditing was done by the finance officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I understand that the finance officer was sent to Washington, London but that was not done by the finance office at the immigration department.”

EAMON COURTENAY

“Just to clarify because I just want to make sure, Senator asked about whether or not government was receiving the revenue and you said yes.”

TERESITA CASTELLANOS

“Yes because when you send back the report and even that requirement we did this was what was expected we needed to have this information; the date that the visa was issued, the visa foil serial number, the surname the first name, the nationality, the visa type, the RCR number an the amount so that was reconciled on the report that the respective station or in the mission and the amount collected was there.”

The hearing resumes next week Wednesday.