My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: PICA and the Passport Fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PICA and the Passport Fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips

Jamaicans are now in a state of unrest as it relates to running away to green pastures

This as the fees for obtaining and renewing a Jamaica Passport will be increased as of Tuesday May 26th 2015, caused a rush on the PICA (Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency) Offices today as reported in the article “Large police team now gathered at Passport Office”, published Wednesday, May 20, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.


In fact, persons gathered at PICA became boisterous, threatening to protest what they saw as unfair hike in the fees to obtaining and renewing a Jamaica Passport as noted in the article “Passport Office customers threaten protest”, published Wednesday, May 20, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

If you saw these Passport fees that will come into effect on Tuesday, May 26th 2015 as reported in the article “Anger as Passport fees increase”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer, you'd probably protest too:

1.      JA$6,500 for an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$4,500
2.      JA$4,000 for a Passport for a minor (under 18), up from JA$2,700

Also don't think of losing your Passport, as those fees at PICA have gone up dramatically:

1.      JA$11,500 for replacing an Adult Passport (over 18), up from JA$9,500
2.      JA$7,000 for replacing a minor's Passport (under 18), up from JA$5,700

So was PICA ill-prepared for the reaction to the Passport hike? It looks so, despite their elaborate precautions

PICA and the Passport fee Hike - Jamaicans upset despite being told beforehand by Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips

Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips had actually announced this back in March 2015 after having opened the 2015/2016 Budget Debates on Thursday March 12, 2015 seeking some JA$641.6 billion to fund his budget as reported in the article “Finance Minister Opens Budget Debate Today”,  published Thursday March 12, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  


He soon mentioned that the  Government agencies and departments fees for processing various Government Documents would be increasing, mentioned as a “Rationalization of Outdated fees” as noted in the article “Phillips Announces New Gas Tax Among Raft Of New Revenue Measures”, published Thursday March 12, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.   

Good to note here the last time Passport fees were increased was back in 2009, with increases as ranging between 80% to 380% as noted in the article “Passport Fees To Increase, Announcement Coming 'In Due Time'”, published Sunday May 17, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  



PICA has prepare all their locations for the coming onslaught of people seeking to beat the deadline as noted in the article “Passport fees increase next week”, published Monday, May 18, 2015, The Jamaica Observer and “UPDATE: New Measures This Week To Handle Rush Ahead Of Passport Fee Hike”, published Sunday May 17, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.  

Jamaicans are now being told to collect their Passports at the following locations:

1.      Mandeville
2.      May Pen
3.      Montego Bay
4.      Portmore
5.      St Ann's Bay

The JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) Opposition spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith, had chimed in stating that the fee hike was excessive as reported in the article “JLP: Passport fee hike exorbitant and unconscionable”, published Tuesday, May 19, 2015, The Jamaica Observer.

But with such a large hole to fill in the budget, increasing outdated fees such as Spirit Licenses, Shopkeeper licenses and now Passport fees at the various Government Offices will come as a series of Price shocks as many try to survive in Jamaica.


    
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