Georgetown, Guyana – (April 27, 2016) The Ministry of Citizenship has begun putting systems in place, which will ensure the decentralisation of immigration and citizenship services from Georgetown and the availability of these services in the various administrative regions.

This, even as the Ministry has embarked on a partnership agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aimed at ensuring that there is 100 percent of births registration in the country. In an invited comment, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix said that the Ministry is the process of fine-tuning plans to debut the services of his Ministry in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), where offices will be opened in New Amsterdam and Corriverton.

“A number of steps must be taken and which I am now pursuing. For example, the locations must be identified and made secure and habitable to persons seeking to do business in those departments or areas. Then we have to acquire the requisite equipment and staff. In terms of the equipment, I am sourcing the equipment and cost,” Minister Felix said.

He noted that a decision was taken to begin with East Berbice-Corentyne, since this region accounts for a large number of persons queuing-up at the Central Immigration and Passport Office in Georgetown.

“The effect of decentralisation is to take the Government services to the people. Region Six accounts for a large number of persons who travel to Georgetown on a daily basis, as such, the crowds assemble there and the system takes on the appearance of being inefficient. To improve the lives of the citizens it is important that we remove the inefficiencies from Georgetown and to provide the services in areas like [East Berbice Corentyne],” he said.

On Thursday, the Minister will travel to the region to identify buildings and locations that will be best suited for an office.

“Having done that we will have to source the avenues for repairs and set up the operations in a manner, which would provide proper working space for the staff and accommodation for the residents,” Minister Felix said.

The Minister relayed that the regions will be benefit as soon as locations for the offices and the exact costs have been determined. Other areas earmarked for introducing these services are Essequibo, Linden and Lethem. “If we are taking services to the people, we have to identify location and then the personnel and equipment being followed,” he said.

100 per cent births registration

In the meantime, the Ministry, through its General Registrar’s Office (GRO), has been working in tandem with the UNICEF to ensure that 100 percent registration of births is recorded.

Already the Ministry has visited three regions and has plans to visit three more during the coming weeks, to ensure that the is maximum reach. Currently, Guyana boasts a registration rate that is between 89 and 92 percent. However, Minister Felix and UNICEF’s Resident Representative, Ms. Marianne Flach believe that there is much more to be done.

“We have been working with UNICEF to improve birth registration but also improve early registration. Birth registration is an essential activity in the lives of children. It avails them to government services such as vaccination and education. We are making every effort to educate young mothers and young families on the importance of not just registering their child in the civil process but to ensure that they are registered early. UNICEF’s process had us at 89 per cent previously, but whatever it had then and what it is now, it is not 100 percent and we are seeking to achieve 100 percent birth registration,” Minister Felix explained.

Deputy General Registrar, Mr. Louis Crawford, in an invited comment, said that the programme, which started in February, has received tremendous support from the communities, especially those in the hinterland.

“The intention is to visit all of the Ten Administrative Regions… We have been in Regions One, Seven, and Nine. The success is so enormous that the regional officers have requested that we revisit some of those areas. We are able to register persons and also do late registrations. In Region Eight, we have been able to register people for the first time, getting them birth certificates and even marriage certificates,” he said.

Mr. Crawford said that the next stop will be Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice (Region 10) but every region will be touched since “each child must be registered.”

The team will also revisit some areas, in the hope of registering those persons who would have missed the first visit.

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