The former Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix has written a lengthy letter to the media where he detailed the reasons that friend of the coalition, Larry London was chosen to print birth certificates. According to Felix, the choice was mainly fuelled by the APNU+AFC government’s desire to secure several security upgrades as well as to supply birth certificates to citizens even in far-flung areas.
Earlier this week, the nation learned that London was given $30M, which was funneled through a company he registered in the United States, to print 20,000 birth certificates. The news triggered widespread conversation.
Today, Felix said that in 2015, the then President David Granger spoke about the need to effect several changes in immigration services as the issues were highlighted to him in the lead up to elections.
An assessment of the GRO’s capacity to issue birth certificates for the remainder of the year was then conducted. Felix said that the General Registrar, at that time, wrote to the Minister of Citizenship under the caption “Sole sourcing of Birth Certificates”, stating thus: ”The General Register Office for the past fifteen (15) years has been Sole Sourcing birth certificates from………….Printery” (name withheld for reason of privacy).
Felix noted, “Therefore, sole-sourcing of birth certificates did not commence with the APNU/AFC Government but with the PPPC administration it flourished.”
The former Minister then refuted allegations that the APNU/AFC Government corruptly and capriciously gave a contract to London without satisfying the necessary requirements of the Procurement Act. Felix said, “That is not so. The Government simply agreed to continue sole sourcing birth certificates as the PPP had been doing since that method would have been restricted to a limited number of persons being privy to the security features which were envisioned to secure that document.”
The former Minister said that after visits to and discussions were had with the previous supplier, it was discovered that although he had the machinery to print the birth certificates, he lacked the capacity to do so with an improved quality of paper and the necessary upgraded security features.
Felix said that at the time, forged birth certificates were rampant and Foreign Embassies in Georgetown raised concerns about the quality of birth certificates, necessitating the need to upgrade the document.
He said that in an effort to address the issue, even the Canadian Bank Note was contacted but that company, at that time, was principally in the passport business.
Then entered London who presented to the Department, samples of “high-quality paper” and several security features to protect the document.
Felix said that after several engagements with London, the Department agreed to restrict the security features to six because, “according to my understanding, additional features would increase the cost of production. Our first order was received in 2016. I am confident that each of our orders received the requisite approval from the National Procurement and Tender Board (NPTAB)” said Felix.