Security Minister says passport fee hike implementation date changed to June 1
The government has pushed back the implementation of the new fee structure at the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to Monday, June 1.
The adjustment is in response to the mad rush on PICA offices and outlets across the island.
The new fees, which will see some services going up by 40 per cent, were scheduled to take effect next week Tuesday, May 26.
Many have criticised PICA and the government for the short notice as well as the level of increases.
National Security Minister, Peter Bunting, who has ministerial responsibility for PICA, says following a meeting this morning with officials of the agency it was decided that the implementation date will be pushed back.
Bunting further says an additional location is to be set up in the Corporate Area to process passports to deal with the high demand.
However, the national security minister says there will be no roll back of the fees adding that the increases are justified.
Among other things, he cites the fact that the last increase was in 2009 and that many passport holders readily pay high fees to buy a plane ticket to travel overseas.
He says the quota system at the agency's Constant Spring Road head quarters will continue as PICA seeks to handle the increased demand for passport services.
Meanwhile, in a subsequent statement the national security ministry advised that PICA will continue to process applications and every attempt will be made to process customers who are currently at its headquarters on Constant Spring Road in Kingston.
It further said between next Tuesday, May 26 through to Friday, May 29, PICA will accept and process passport applications at the National Indoor Sports Centre starting at six in the morning each day.