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Wait Time For Passports Is Increased To 12 Weeks

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

THE demand for passports has tripled this year compared to 2014, forcing the collection time to increase from eight weeks to 12 weeks, according to Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell.

During his contribution to the budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Mitchell said the impending discontinuance of hand written passports this year coupled with the “summer rush” has caused extremely long delays at the Passport Office.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hopes to acquire extra help in the coming days to ease some of the burden.

“The Passport Office continues to face challenges and unfortunately the average time for passports is 12 weeks and not eight weeks (as) previously announced,” Mr Mitchell said.

“We are in the process of seeking additional resources and to see whether or not this issue can be solved. You will note that people will have to rid themselves of handwritten passports by the end of the year, this together with the summer rush has caused spike in the number of applications,” he said. “I was at the Passport Office earlier this week and I was advised that the average appointment last year was 100 per day, but now they are seeing more than 300 per day and they simply cannot keep up with the demand. We are speaking with public agencies (to) get emergency support in terms of personnel, (and) work out these issues.”

Mr Mitchell has previously said that all Bahamian passport holders will have to have an e-passport by the end of this year.

Mr Mitchell also announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking a $3 million increase for allowances for Foreign Service workers.

The ministry was allocated $26,184,994 during the last budget cycle and Mr Mitchell is requesting $29,623,118.

“It is necessary because foreign service officers, their allowances have not changed (for) over a decade and it is far short (of) what is necessary to allow them to live at a level in these offices overseas consistent with a acceptable standard,” Mr Mitchell said.

Comments

DillyTree 4 years, 8 months ago

Oh great, more good news! Yet Fred Mitchell wants raises for foreign services staff.

Why does this department seem to just keep getting worse, in spite of all the budget increases? Maybe Fred Mitchell stay home and fix things here before he goes travelling again....just a thought.

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Economist 4 years, 8 months ago

But wait. You knew that you were forcing all Bahamians to prove that they are Bahamians by sending out your "goon" squads, so you must have figured that more people would be applying for their passport.

SOOO.... why did you not have the proper team and equipment in place to deal with he new demand...you created it!

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My2cents 4 years, 8 months ago

What about the goons that never applied for a passport even though they had legal status?

I have no issue with these folks having a longer wait. In the meanwhile, the same documents used to apply for the passport can be used to prove status...there was/is no need to expand the department and increase overhead for this temporary demand.

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Economist 4 years, 8 months ago

It also means that you and your family have to wait longer.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 8 months ago

If Mitchell can't oversee the proper running of a passport office for a country with less than 200,000 passport holders, we can only rightly assume there is very little he can do other than waste the people's tax dollars jet setting around the world. This creepy incompetent pseudo-intellect actually believes he's God's gift to the Bahamas in the area of foreign affairs. Little does he know that his foreign counterparts (especially those in the U.S.) do not hold him in high regard and, in fact, quite often ridicule him behind his back.

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