Georgetown, Guyana – (February 20, 2020) Director General, Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon, this afternoon, commissioned a spanking new $38M Immigration Office at Independence Avenue, McKenzie, Linden as the Government continues its quest to decentralise basic public services to citizens across the country.
In his feature address, DG Harmon said President David Granger’s vision of taking public services directly to the people in every region is becoming a welcomed reality. Noting that a similar office was commissioned in New Amsterdam, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) last week, he said the Government is demonstrating its commitment to making life easier for citizens.
“We have committed ourselves to making life easier for citizens. We have committed ourselves to ensuring that Government services are taken to the people and ensuring that people don’t have to go looking and searching for Government services. We recognised very early that there are certain things which affect the lives of every Guyanese and there had to be a decentralisation in governance and public services. We have sought to decentralise services so that they are available where the people are. This passport office here is just one element in the decentralisation process. We have decentralised the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the Guyana Revenue Authority,” he said.
DG Harmon noted that the Government does not see communities based on their race, geographic location or their perceived political affiliation but rather, as Guyanese who need access to basic services that should be provided by the State.
“This country is being developed in an equal and equitable manner and no community is being left behind. There are no ‘red’ or ‘green’ communities with respect to development. It is spread all across this country. Our first priority is to satisfy the requirements of our people. I would like to congratulate the Minister and the Department of Citizenship for taking this vision and making it a reality,” Mr. Harmon stated.
Meanwhile, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, in his remarks, said the need was identified for a Passport Office in Region Ten and in August 2016, the Government after discussions with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), set up a temporary office at the Scheme’s office to provide services three days per week.
While this was taking place, he noted that the Department began to look for suitable land in the area and once it was identified and permission received, the contract was awarded in December 2017 for construction of the office to commence.
“On July 30, 2019, this building was put into service to test the equipment and the efficiency of the staff. They responded admirably to the task and have since accepted and processed 2,623 applications for passports. Citizens are assured that their applications will be processed within eight days of the submission of their applications. In circumstances where the applications were made in Georgetown, the applications are able to receive their passports in Linden within the same period,” he said.
Minister Felix added that a similar office is currently under construction in Lethem, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) while others are planned for Mabaruma, Barima-Waini (Region One), Anna Regina, Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two), Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven) and Mahdia, Potaro- Siparuni (Region Eight).
“The President has placed much effort in improving the lives of Guyanese and spared no effort in ensuring that the residents of Region Ten benefit from this project, which has removed long and challenging journeys to Georgetown to stand in lines for hours in the sun to apply for a simple passport. May this edifice continue to serve the residents of Region Ten with dignity and pride and with greater ease for residents,” he noted.
Regional Chairman, Mr. Rennis Morian, in his remarks, lauded the Government for the initiative even as he noted that it will bring significant benefits to the residents of the region, not only financially but timewise as well. He noted that the region had asked the previous administration in 2009 for a Passport Office in the region but it was never delivered.
“I am happy that when the Government took office that they recognised that development cannot be a selective process. This Government looks at development in a holistic manner and I am happy that each community could share in the bounties that are part of Guyana,” he said.
The commissioning ceremony was also attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings.