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GOB refuses to pass up over $30,000 in visa fees

Yesterday reports surfaced that the Chinese Association of Belize was not happy with the Government of Belize. Reports are that the Chinese Association of Belize had asked the Government to waive more than thirty thousand dollars in visa fees for a group of visually impaired children who are traveling through Panama to Belize to perform on Sunday. We were made to understand that a letter was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so today we asked Minister Wilfred Elrington about the matter. He said that it was discussed in Cabinet and it is an immigration matter.


WILFRED Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“Actually I have not seen a letter but I know the matter was raised in our Cabinet this Tuesday and it was pointed out by the minister responsible for immigration that the immigration authority has no power to waive visa fee, it’s really a matter for the ministry of immigration but under the law there is no authority to do that they can’t do that. You would appreciate that foreign affairs has nothing to do with immigration, but the minister and form the cabinet Minister Hulse, but there is no provision for them to be able to waive the fee for anyone.”


We’ve also received a report that the recent performing group Katak from India their fees were, was that brought up in cabinet?

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“There was reference made to another group that performed and there was an issue raised with respect for the fee; I cannot tell you if I heard exactly what happened with relation to that fee but I did hear an issue raised in relation to a fee with respect to them but Mr Hulse sits right opposite me in the cabinet and so I heard exactly what he said to the cabinet but in fact there is no provision in the law to waive the immigration fee.”

Reporter:So the Katak group fees were not waived ?

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“I don’t know but I’m saying to you this is what I heard Mr Hulse say.”

Reporter: Some people in the Chinese community believe that the fees were not waived because of this decision from Panama to terminate its allegiance with Taiwan.

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs:

“No the fees, you know our government is governed by laws and the question of fees is stipulated in the law. If the law allows for fees to be waived it can be waived to no issue with that, that kind of issue doesn’t come up in a discussion like that I mean that would not influence it. This is a mature and rational country you know we don’t have any business if the people in Panama decide to change from one country to the next that doesn’t affect us, we have our own policies and principles we are guided by our own principles but we would never seek to punish any other people or entity because of that. We have got to act properly, fairly and in strict accordance with our law and as far I know that is the situation. It’s a simple case of there is no provision in our law for the waiver of that fee. From what I heard the minister say there’s no circumstance under which that fee can be waived.”