And it seems the UDP and the PSU agree that change at the Vital Stats Unit needs to happen – and fast. The man, who last headed the Ministry responsible for the troublesome department, is Senator Michael Peyrefitte. As a former Attorney General, he has a unique understanding of the run of the place and why the changes are so urgent. However, he’s been added to the list of those to blame for leaving the unit’s problems unresolved. He conceded that while this administration and the one he was a part of having some blame to share, he agrees that it is time for the department’s services to go digital.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “I won’t jump on the administration just like that for vital stats there are many issues with vital stats that has nothing to do with the government or the department. We all share blame. I like to say that when we apply for our US Visa we go into the office and we’re well behaved, they make us stand up in sun waiting for the visa and nobody complains or says anything. Sometimes people go into that office and they’re rude, they’re disrespectful and they’re frustrated because they cannot get the documents that they need but what I always say is this there are many times when members of the public go in there with wrong information and want the department to perform magic. If you were not born in Belize then how can you get a birth paper from here ? And many times you find out that people aren’t named what they think they’re named and people their parents are not who they thought their parents were so I’m not saying that those are the only problems but the only way you can fix it at this point is to go digital with it and we were embarking on hoping to get some of that CABEI funding and somehow find a way to develop a system that you could apply for your birth paper online.”
So, it seems the former AG, the current one and the PSU president all agree that applying for a birth certificate should be done online. However, Senator Peyrefitte added that the portal that should happen must be protected against hackers – or else, the government will have opened a brand-new can of worms.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman: “I think it needs to be staffed with senior people who are permanently established who are very knowledgeable of the workings of government and not only that they have the maturity and the sensibility to deal with a sometimes unforgiving public and I do agree with the PSU President that at times there have been too many young people hired at the department. I think it needs to be headed by an attorney that we started when we were there and we continued when we were there and they still have one year now, senior staff, bring back some of that senior staff for example I would like to see them bring in Mr.Ray Usher, I would like to see them bring back Mr.Edmon Pennel have them be the second tier leadership of that department get it humming and running, develop a system and then we go from there but nothing will replace automating it. The problem with that is that you have to get software that is impregnable and it has to be service by people who we can trust and at no time can we allow that system to be hacked because once it’s hacked and people start spitting out birth papers for different people then we will have a serious serious problem.”