On Monday, the Peoples United Party area representatives and standard bearers marched at the Belize City office for the Vital Statistics Unit. The slow pace of the unit to process death certificates and birth papers are well known to be the one of the slowest processes and congested spaces you’ll ever meet in any government offices. Lines have often made it down the stairs and onto the streets from early each morning. But following the PUP’s protest, the Attorney General’s Ministry sent a press release stating that things have been better since it got under it’s control. And that’s what Attorney General Mike Peyrefitte reiterated today.
Attorney General: “ The problem is that there is no longer any corruption at Vital Stats. Previously agents used to be all up in the office in the vault, holding books, going through books that they were not authorized to do, all of that has stopped. If you come to me and the system is that when you apply to register a child that information goes into about four or five different books and a computer system. If we don’t find you in one book because indeed sometimes the pages are missing or the book is so old you don’t see it. It is always in some other document. Where ever find you in one of those four or five books that are in the system we will issue you your birth paper but if you are nowhere to be found. Several people come into that office to apply with an agent for a birth paper and don’t speak english, they don’t speak spanish, really you are born in Belize? Really? And you have no presence in any of the records anywhere in Vital Stats. You want the office to just issue a birth paper to that person so that the public can make no comment about Vital Stats. I would prefer for it to come to a grinding halt than for us to issue a birth paper to a person who isn’t a real Belizean, that is my position. Naturally we have to improve the system: we want to computerize it, we want to make sure that it is not only computerized but technically secure. It takes millions of dollars to do that. We are coming up with a budget, we are coming up with something to propose to the Cabinet and to the MInister of Finance and hopefully we can maybe get some grant funding or some other kind of financial commitment to protect the integrity of our birth paper system. If you have a birth paper you don’t need to buy a passport, you have everything so where you go to buy your birth paper it has to be not an easy process. We have to make sure that you are a Belizean and I make no apologies for that. Yesterday I proposed to Cabinet and Cabinet approved it. We are sending a notice to all Government offices because we find that many offices used to reject the old birth paper. What we said is that according to the law that is still a valid birth paper so if you have one of the long birth paper them you don’t have to apply for a new one and when you go into Government office to present your paper and they are not going to keep it anymore. They are going to make a copy of it and put it on the file. That way you don’t have to go an apply for a birth paper over and over again. It will reduce the traffic and make everything more efficient.”
The A.G.’s press release said that the Government condemned the acts of the PUP in the face of vast improvements and progress, to seek to disillusion, disunite and insight a frenzy of paranoia and conspiracy in the Belizean people. Moreover, the ploy of the PUP to attack vital services as a tool in furthering its anti-ICJ campaign is simply a cheap and desperate shot.