Guyanese in Canada and other foreign countries will be subjected to a lengthy waiting period for their passports to be renewed with the introduction of the machine readable travel document.
It will take a minimum of eight weeks for the passports to be processed in Georgetown and returned after they are submitted to the Guyana Consulate which will send the travel documents twice a month by courier. The same courier service will be used to deliver the new passports to Canada.
The price of the new passport will increase to nearly Can$100. The cost of a handwritten passport, previously processed at the Guyana consulate in the Greater Toronto Area, was $60 for a new document and $50 for a renewable one.
“It’s critical that Guyanese not wait until the last moment to get their passports,” Guyana’s High Commissioner Rajnarine Singh said at an end-of-year press briefing. “We would not be able to issue emergency travel documents as was done in the past and I am advising Guyanese to check their passports to see when the expiry date is and make sure they give themselves enough time to get their document processed.”
Singh added that passport holders, who do not want to wait until the last moment, could have their document processed at least 10 months before it expires.
The Guyana Consulate processed almost 3,500 passports annually before the new procedure was initiated at the start of this year.
Singh, who replaced the late Brindley Benn as Guyana’s top diplomat in Canada in 1998, said he and other CARICOM diplomats in Ottawa have been meeting with Canada’s immigration officials to address the deportation of criminals.
“We highlight the fact that those performing criminal acts come here at a young age and learn their trade here,” he said. “We are sending them back to Guyana where they have very few relatives, if any, to accommodate them. The end result is that these people, with their sophisticated techniques, filter into the criminal networks in those countries to which they are sent.
“As small developing countries, we do not have the resources to integrate them into our society.”
Just one criminal was deported to Guyana last year.
Singh also provided an update on some of the country’s key economic sectors. He said that while the world demand for bauxite declined, there was a significant increase in mining, aquaculture and tourism, which escalated by almost seven per cent with an estimated 160,000 arrivals in 2009.
Singh said that the country’s 10 eco-tourism resorts are a major attraction and are fully booked most of the year.