Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet is asking the government not to play the blame game when it comes to the cost of the electronic passport.
Chastanet said that while his administration effectively priced the passport at $250 before he was removed from office last year, that doesn’t mean the current government can’t change what it inherited.
“Labour cannot choose what it wants to have; any new government that comes along can change everything. They could have changed these things whenever they wanted. When we came to government, we changed the VAT rate, we reduced taxes on driving licenses and vehicle registration. It’s up to any government to do it (therefore), it’s far-fetched, it’s just passing the buck to itself without trying to justify itself,” Chastanet said.
“Whether they did it deliberately or they just didn’t pay attention and suddenly got caught with their pants down is up to them, but to suggest that someone d anything else influenced them is wrong,” Chastanet said. added.
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Interior Minister Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte spoke out this week on the imminent arrival of the e-passport, after the price was heavily criticized on social media. The government has also been criticized for the price tag attached to the travel document.
While many complained about the price of $250, nearly three times the amount of the machine-readable passport, Albert-Poyotte told reporters the new fee was prepared by the previous government.
“The Cabinet has taken the decision to go ahead with the ePassport with the fees that have been quoted. The decision was made on January 18, 2021, and we weren’t in power yet. The price quoted for the passport is basically to recover production costs and it won’t even cover the full cost of the passport. The government still needs to subsidize in order to cover the costs of obtaining the electronic passport,” said Albert-Poyotte.
According to her, the electronic passport (qualified as the “next generation of travel documents”) must be implemented. The Minister noted that the machine readable passports that are currently used in Saint Lucia are nearly obsolete.
“The e-passport is very important because our passport is pretty much obsolete, and regional and international security officials are saying they might not even want to accept the current passports we have. We had no other choice. than to move forward and update our new passports and ensure that Saint Lucians are (on par) with what is happening regionally and internationally…this is a reality that we do not may not want to debate (but) it is a reality that is at our (door) and we have to face it, ”said Albert-Poyotte.