Digitizing of GRO records to be completed in 2020 – Felix

Winston Felix

The digitizing of records at the General Register Office (GRO) is now set to be completed by 2020, according to Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix who says that the delivery of printed birth certificates is one of the aims.

“That (the digitizing project) is still on. That’s the digitization where we are now digitizing the records so that we can start off by getting a printed birth certificate”, he told the Sunday Stabroek.

As it stands, the required details such as names, place of birth and names of both parents are manually written on birth certificates by the GRO staff. This process is very time consuming.

He explained that once these documents are being printed, work will then begin on a project which will facilitate the production of a unique number which will “serve to identify you from birth to death”. He explained that this number will appear on government issued documentation such as driver’s licences and passports.

In January 2016, Felix had told this newspaper that records from 1987 to somewhere in the 1990s were digitized up to that point.

He had stressed that the intention was to “capture and digitize all the records we have there and provide such a database that would enable us to retrieve records faster. We will be able to provide birth certificates much faster and we will be able to secure those records for much longer periods and under safer conditions,”

Meanwhile, the construction of two passport and immigration offices at New Amsterdam and Linden are in the final stages of completion, according to Felix who has assured that staffing will not be an issue.

Felix said that the facility at New Amsterdam, Berbice will be the first to be completed. The end of June is the proposed date while the facility at Linden is expected to be completed shortly after. He said that work on a similar facility at Bartica is in the early stages.

He informed that the construction of offices at Lethem and Mabaruma is next on the agenda. All the passport and immigration offices being built, he said will facilitate the collection of passports and the issuance of those documents when they are ready.

Asked about the availability of staff to properly man the offices once opened, the minister said that staffing for New Amsterdam is already in place and that the process had started to identify staff for Linden.

Felix stressed that the aim of government is to extend the passport and immigration services to other parts of the country.

With regards to online passport processing, he said that that is still being explored. “We now have to explore online facilities. That (passport processing) had to be put on pause because the payment system that goes with it is not available in Guyana. We need Paypal”, he said while informing that another option is being looked at presently.

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