Former Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix sought to oust the “mistaken belief” that birth rate dictates or serves as a guide to the number of birth certificates issued each year. He said that several other factors are taken into consideration.
This was part of Felix’s response to the revelation that the coalition government paid $30M to Larry London to print 20,000 birth certificates. Many questioned why was it necessary to print that number of certificates over less than five years when the recorded birth rate in Guyana is not nearly that close.
Felix said that there are instances where requests are made through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from our Embassies/High Commissions. These birth certificates benefit Guyanese living abroad who might have misplaced or damaged their birth certificates.
The former Minister said that the reopening of schools places a heavy demand on the GRO for birth certificates. Further, Felix said that election cycles – both Local Government and General and Regional Elections—place an even greater demand for birth certificates. “It must be noted that between 2015 and 2020 there were two Local Government and one General and Regional Elections, and the Department’s supply of birth certificates met the increased demand adequately;
Felix also stated that the coalition government’s outreaches to communities throughout Guyana increased the demand for birth certificates. He said applicants for birth certificates regularly request two or more copies, and this requires GRO to have adequate numbers of the document on hand.
According to Felix, the need for birth certificates has been overwhelming in hinterland communities. He added, “Satisfying the needs of Guyanese was the Government’s priority, bearing in mind the need to comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. There were persons who received a birth certificate for the first time and one person publicly made that statement in Region No.1.”