The proposed new prices for passports leaked; Cabinet yet to approve the increase in fees
Today, social media was abuzz with news that the fees for a Belizean passport have increased significantly. However, the Ministry of Immigration has confirmed that the figures are only proposed fees that have not been approved by Cabinet. Love News understands that the information was randomly posted by an immigration officer in training for the new electronic passport issuance and control system. With the proposed changes passports for persons over 16 years old go from $50 to 200$, which represents a four hundred percent increase. For minors, the price would increase from $30 to $150. The twenty-four-hour service additional service, which does not include the initial fee, would also jump from $200 to $300 for both adults and minors. The fees to replace a stolen or lost passport would see an uptick from $85 and $55, for adults and minors respectively, to one flat rate of $200. The price to apply for a passport due to an urgent medical emergency would also increase for minors going from $60 to $100. Once again we note that these changes are not set in stone and are only proposed fees. It’s a situation that we asked Minister of Immigration, Eamon Courtenay, about a few weeks ago. He explained that there is a debate in Cabinet over the proposal. Courtney stated that it may not be the appropriate time to implement the increase, however, GOB needs to recoup the twenty million dollar investment made in the new passport scheme. He says that Cabinet will have the ultimate decision of settling on fees that are reasonable and will allow for GOB to recover its investment. Today, our newsroom asked the President of the Public Service Union, Dean Flowers for his comment on the suggested changes.
Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “I can only say that perhaps again the quality of the passports that are now being or that will now be issued is perhaps of a higher quality. Perhaps the maintenance cost of the machines require a higher fee. Again these are costs that are proposed by the government and these are costs that the Belizean people have a right to challenge. I look at these costs similarly to how I look at fuel in this country whereby we turn ourselves into armchair revolutionists and Facebook warriors and we have a whole lot to say but we do absolutely nothing meaningful to change it. Any government is a representation of the people. Any government has a duty and obligation to carry out the will and mandate of the people that’s why it is said that you’re a government for the people by the people. Belizeans have turned over their authority to govern, to say to the government these are the policies and decisions we would want you to effect and implement. We’ve said to the government you can do as you wish with us and we look at the government as Masa God as the old people would have probably said and for this reason the government enforces these not only unfair but perhaps unaffordable type of services on us and again if the Belizean people have no gripes or believe that taking to Facebook and not rather protesting the offices of their area representatives or protesting the office of the Immigration Department that’s the only way that attention will be given to our concerns. Look at the inconvenience and to this day the hustling that continues in the Immigration Department and the troubles that people have to go through. How many of those thousands of people that have lined up have taken the time to organize themselves and blocked the entrance of the Immigration Department and protest the unfair treatment that is dished out on them, the hustling that takes place, it’s on record the CEO knows about it the Minister knows about it, Cabinet knows about it everybody knows about it and the Belizean people on a daily basis they continue to pay, they continue to line up and they continue to take to Facebook. Facebook will not solve their problems.”
The official change to the fees will be announced on October 24, when the new passport system is launched.