According to Immigration C.E.O. Doctor Gilroy Middleton, there is an “eminent threat to the country of the inevitable failure of the entire national passport system.” The matter is so serious and of national importance that Prime Minister John Briceño told News Five today that it needs urgent attention. It has to do with the outdated and obsolete passport system. According to the Immigration C.E.O., the Ministry has been finding innovative ways to ensure the current passport system works; however, it has become impossible to manage the current passport system effectively. In a one-page statement, Middleton explains that everything is failing and non-functional. The crux of the matter is with the service provider, 3M Technologies, which is no longer operational. So the required licenses for the data capture machines and biometrics are no longer available. The problem is compounded because it makes the equipment, including signature scanners, fingerprint scanners, and cameras, obsolete. With a fragile passport system, the country is at risk, which is why Middleton and his team are working to ensure that a new and modern e-passport system be put in place as soon as possible.  On Tuesday, Cabinet approved a request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration to replace the outdated passport system.

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Well we don’t know about the timeframe. We need to get that as soon as possible. The present system is crashing. There are no licenses, no more licenses to keep that system going. The equipment is antiquated. We can’t get parts for them so we have to do that as soon as possible. Hopefully we could get it very shortly. I don’t want to say a timeline. I don’t want to speak out of turn. But it is something that has to be done with urgency. The previous government knew that was happening. They were discussing it from 2017 but they decided to play politics as oppose to looking after the interest of this country, looking at the security of this country because the new passport system that we are getting is going to have biometrics. It is going to be so much more secure so this has to fall in the lap of the incompetence of Dean Barrow and the U.D.P.  They had no vision. All they were worried about was playing politics and not looking at what is truly necessary for this country. Having to get a new system is not a luxury. It is a must. It is a necessity.”

An e-passport is a traditional passport that has an embedded electronic microprocessor chip which contains biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder.  It uses contactless smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip and antenna embedded in the front or back cover, or centre page, of the passport.  The passport’s critical information is printed on the data page of the passport, repeated on the machine readable lines and stored in the chip. 

Channel 5