An exasperated Prime Minister Dean Barrow has issued a stern warning to his colleagues in Cabinet to avoid a reported scheme where select Ministers operate on a quota basis where visas are concerned. As an example – a Minister has a quota of a certain number of visas, let’s say five, to process and profit from…and another goes to the trough next week. If this is indeed true, it will no longer be tolerated.
Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow- Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
“There is one thing that can bring down this government: it is hustling in Immigration. I have heard that Ministers are procuring visas to people, are said pretty much every second cabinet; if you are doing so, for God’s sake, stop it! Stop it! That is what would cause the Government to fall. It is as Minster Hulse says, though. I hear the stories, but nobody is prepared to me and to say, here is the evidence that Minister so and so was paid so much for procuring a visa for Mr. ‘So’ and ‘So’. Hopefully, the new system will help to put a stop to any ministerial intervention that may have been taking place in the past”.
While there is no direct proof, the P.M. is serious that it must stop, and there will be no mercy.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I have also said that I understand that politicians have friends, and I know that processes can be slow. If a Minister says, you know, I did ask the Immigration Department to bring some speed to the processing of an application for a visa for a friend. It is entirely legitimate as Minister I satisfied myself that the application for the visa was in order. I can’t say that that is not to happen. But if I hear you intervened ten times, and I hear you intervene twenty times, and I hear you intervene for… hmm?…What am I to think, except that you are involved in a hustle! If you hang out with Ali Baba, you must be one of the forty thieves!”
Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse also weighed in, saying if there is proof, those affected should come forward.
Hon. Godwin Hulse- Minister of Immigration
“I am hoping that everybody, every single right thinking Belizean who would know or if they know that there is anybody of any other nationality who has obtained a Belize passport fraudulently, or through any system, will be dignified enough, honest enough, nationalistic enough to come forward and give us that information, so, we could deal with it”.