PM Briceno explains rational behind passport cost increase
Recent weeks have seen much opposition and concerns over the increase in passport fees. A regular passport which carried a cost of fifty dollars for a 10-year issue has increased to two hundred dollars with very little notice to the Belizean public. Both the increase and the short notice have been met with concerns and condemnation from the political opposition. Love News met up with Prime Minister John Briceno who explained the rationale behind the price increase.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “When we got into government the Minister of Immigration immediately brought us to attention that we have a crisis, that these passports the machines are breaking down. I think only Belize City and Belmopan was working and none of the rest were working and we can’t call anyone to get parts to fix it. And in some instances were taking as much as six or seven pictures to be able to get one to fit in the passport. So we knew we had to bite the bullet and to do something about it. We looked at different companies, we put a bid worldwide and we had three companies and I think it’s E-Passports a company from Canada that won the bid. It is a huge investment that we did and we ensure now that these passports can store your biometrics, they have a microchip in it and as you all know there have been a shortage of microchips so it delayed the implementation of these new passports and secondly the cost has gone up. I know a lot of people are very concerned about the cost and so are we in Cabinet but we decided that then the consumers should pay for the passport. I don’t think its fair for a cane farmer that has no interest in getting a passport for them to be able to subsidize a passport for someone like myself that is traveling and so what the minister did is he said okay we’re going to do the passport from five years to ten years so in effect your passport is costing you $20 a year. Secondly it’s a passport now that is accepted worldwide. One of the problems we are having with the European Union is that they require us to get a visa from them and one of the reasons why they’re saying that is because they did not trust the passport how secure how safe it is. Now that we have this new system they’re saying okay now we’re taking another look and hopefully in the near future they may say okay we’re going to do a visa waiver for Belizeans. So it is a necessary investment.”
The new fees took effect on April 4, 2023.