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Senate Select Committee begins to compile report

For more than a year, the nation tuned in every Wednesday to hear the controversies that would air during the Senate Select Committee hearings. Senators sat for more than 12 months hearing testimonies of witnesses as they investigated the Auditor General’s Special Visa and other findings Report on the Immigration and Nationality Department for the period 2011-2013. The last session was held on December 6, 2017, and we have been waiting to read the final report and see if anyone would be held accountable. Lead Senator for Government Business, says that the report will first be tabled before the Senate for approval and then made a public document.

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “When I chaired the last time, the first ever Senate Report into Social Security there was a little hiccup with how the report was released and to whom etc.which then resulted in me being taken to court by then Mrs. Garcia and her team and that went through a whole long mortification so we don’t want to have the same misteps again, we want to learn from that process. So the report does come to Senate first for adaption then it will be made public.”

RENEE: Now I know that you had listened to several of the sessions that had happened in terms of the Senate Inquiry. Do you feel that perhaps anything will come out of this Senate or there’s the possibility of any action or anybody that can be held accountable?

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: Well a lot of people can be held accountable but Renee as I continue to maintain, there is a legal process to everything, you know that, everybody knows that. And even if a legal process were taken against lots of people that were cited in the report for having wrong doing, you have to come up with the proof, they will get lawyers to defend them and at the end of the day, the legislation at that time was so miniscule that it was probably not worth the effort; a hundred dollars fine and that sort of thing. Since 2014 January 6 to be exact, when I signed certain SI’s and when we put legislation in the House to improve this. This is almost coming into the fifth year. The fines are tremendous now. Fifteen years in jail and fifty thousand dollar fine, that is now significant and we are hoping that thank kind of fine becomes a deterrent to anybody who  would want to do that. If you could take those fines back into 2013 and 2012 it would be really really significant but we will see what the report says and I can’t say anymore to that. I have said that Immigration Department has made some tremendous strides and we have continued to work to see how we can clean up and clean up and clean up but there’s always mischief being made and it is something we have to recognize. I beg the nation, whenever you see any mischief; we’re all in this together. Despite whatever was said in the media, it was the reason why we created the Nationality Scrutinizing Committee so that there are social partners on that committee who can signal if anything comes to them that is wrong. You cannot get nationality in this country, unless that committee says yes. That is tremendous. You do not get a visa, even though for me VISA for me is not a big thing. This is an open society, this is a free society and visitors are welcome. You cannot get that unless it goes to a visa vetting committee which again has a lot of people seated on it so those were some of the safeguards we put. In addition to the fact as  you know, that anybody who gets nationality, it is published in the gazette, it is then published again after they get it and then yes, the media complains, yes during the senate they said nobody reads the Gazette but that’s why media can go and get copies and publish, the same way they publish births and deaths and marriages, you can publish nationality too. Open, that was the idea.”