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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines flag Consulate-General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in Toronto

Address333 Wilson Avenue, Suite 601
Toronto ON M3H 1T2
Canada
Phonelocal: (416) 398.4277
international: +1.416.398.4277
Faxlocal: (647) 438.5312
international: +1.647.438.5312
Emailconsulategeneral@rogers.com

Comments on this Consulate-General

Peter Binose
Tue, 3 Jun 2014 08:04 EDT
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, “The Passport Amendment Act 2014” .
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, “The Passport Amendment Act 2014” .

Whilst most Caribbean governments seek to pass laws to stop and deter corruption, it appears that the Unity Labour Party government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, seek to pass laws which the opposition party believe will support corruption. The government are accused of rushing a Bill through parliament that offers retrospective protection from prosecution for perpetrators that may have committed what some believe were corrupt or illegal acts.

Last year the Office of Audit for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines carried out an audit of the New York Consulate accounts for the period of August 2011 to August 2013.

The report was conducted to assess the extent of compliance with finance regulations and other rules governing public sector. This audit came after the reports of a scandal which resulted in the recall of Deputy of the New York Consul General Edson Augustus, over alleged visa and/or passport related matters, and a side business that he was running that promised to acquire US Green Card status for Vincentians, many of whom were believed to be illegal’s in the US.

The report found many discrepancies including that the official receipt books for passport payments had been abandoned and private receipt books used. The Audit Office said that was illegal and there was no way that a track of receipts or continuity of numbered books could be audited or kept track of. No monthly expenditure summary to reflect the expenditure incurred for the period under review; and no bank reconciliation statements prepared for the operating and passport accounts for the same period.

The Consul General Selmon Walters, SVG N.Y. Consul General in New York, failed to implement or cause to be implemented, recommendations coming out of the previous audit report, prescribed by finance regulations. These regulations were not adhered to by the Consulate General Office for a "significant length of time" during the period under review; and the Consulate Office "continues to collect passport fees without the requisite authority."

According to the Office of Audit in 2013, there were no records of certain remittances in the Consulate Cash Book, for monies received for passports. They further reported, that they examined records from Oct. 12, 2011 - Sept. 17, 2013, and found "there was no bank reconciliation statement prepared for the passport account." It said while transactions dated Oct. 11 and 12, 2013 were transferred from the existing cash book to a new one, "the balance carried forward did not reflect the adjusted audited cash book balance.
"It was observed that the unauthorized receipt books were in use for over 10 months since the receipt books were still in use at the time of the audit in Sept. 2013," the report said.

The auditors warned that the use of receipt books other than that prescribed by the Finance Regulation 2009 "makes the collection process vulnerable to fraudulent activities since there is no monitoring of the quantity and sequencing of receipt books to ensure that all revenue collected is accounted for in the correct amounts." The report also pointed out that the New York Consulate has, for a number of years, been collecting sometimes inflated fees.

The ULP government have been known to change laws before, to save Party and Government members from being prosecuted.

They retrospectively passed an act to collect a departure tax from their own citizens whilst travelling by ferry from Kingstown to any of the smaller islands. It was alleged that such a tax was an illegal act. To save losing a court case, they worked on a new provision to an existing Bill over a weekend before the court case, to make it legal for the following Monday when the Bill was read three times and passed, and therefore no prosecution took place.

Also after the 2010 elections when election laws were allegedly broken, they again sought to change the law retrospectively, so as those alleged perpetrators could not be prosecuted. Among the accused were some of the very top government members.

Despite concerns being raised by the Opposition Party and many members of the public, and horror expressed from the Diaspora, 'an amendment to the Passport Act will be before Parliament Monday the 2nd day of June 2014, when it is proposed that the Bill has its required three reading all in one session. An act that will make wrong right, black white, inside outside, bad good, and therefore no one will pay for robbing the state, if that’s what they did.

I suppose one can wonder why, if they didn’t rob the state, and nothing wrong ensued, why take such drastic terms by bringing a Bill before the house of representatives?

The Bill to amend the existing Passport Act was the first Bill listed to be tabled before the House of Assembly on Thursday 29th May. But other matters took priority hence it is now to be read on the following Monday.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace was quoted in The News newspaper Friday 30th May, when he described the amendments as "ridiculous".
saying they are "very unjust" and could result in certain persons not been penalized for their wrong doings.
He said it is very obvious to everyone that the Bill is designed and to prevent diplomats from being charged for things that they may have done in the proceedings of issuing passports from the New York Consuls Office.

According to Eustace he will repeal the Act if the NDP come to power, in the belief that the government has designed the Bill to protect wrongdoers.

In February this year, government recalled with immediate effect, the appointment of SVG's Deputy Consul General in New York, Edson Augustus.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 5th, 2014 claims that Augustus was "involved in activities outside the scope of his duties and inimical to the interest of the Consulate General and the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines." Augustus has not been charged with having committed any criminal act(s).

Below numbered from 1/ to 4/ are the relevant sections of the Act to be cited as the Passport (Amendment) Act 2014.
6.
(1) Every passport issued for a period of more than five years prior to commencement of this Act and the regulations made under the principal Act is declared to have been validly
issued

(2) The fees set out in the schedule to this Act which were levied, charged and collected by the Passport Officer prior to the commencement of this Act and the regulations made under the principal Act are declared to have been validly levied, charged and collected.

(3) All actions by the Passport Officer in relation to the issuing of a passport and the charging and collecting of fees which were validated by subsections (I) and (2) respectively are validated and declared to have been lawful and the Passport Officer and every person acting on behalf of the Passport Officer are freed, acquitted, discharged and indemnified as well against the Queen's Most Gracious Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors as against all other persons from all proceedings of any kind in respect of or consequent on any such actions.

(4) All money received by the Passport Officer in payment of the fees validated under sub-section (2) is declared to have been lawfully paid to and received by the Passport Officer and the Passport Officer and every person acting on behalf of the Passpo1t Officer are freed, acquitted, discharged and indemnified as well against the Queen's most Gracious Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors as against all other persons from all proceedings of any kind in respect of or consequent on the receipt of such money.

In December 2001 a Vincentian with Canadian citizenship, the holder of a Canadian passport and also a standard Vincentian passport, was issue a Vincentian diplomatic passport at Kingstown. He was neither employed by the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines nor was he a registered diplomat of the State. In 2004 he was stopped at Heathrow airport whilst travelling on the diplomatic passport, and found to be carrying a kilo of cocaine.

September 11th 2012, Canadian government revoked Vincentian visa-free entry into Canada as of midnight. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) revoked due to what CIC has indicated is the unreliability in the authenticity of travel documents. They also said that documents from Saint Vincent were unreliable because criminals could change there names and acquire new passports without their previous name being shown in the new passport. Concerns about human trafficking and fraudulent travel documents also prompted the Canadian government to impose new visitor Vincentian visa requirements.

Later in Saint Vincent hundreds if not thousands of unissued new passports were burnt at the Government Print Department at Camden Park, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Villagers said at the time the fire was huge, it lit up the sky. Some citizens later voiced that the passports should of been mutilated but kept, because no one knows the true number destroyed, or if any were left somewhere intact, I suppose they wondered how can you audit a stock of burnt passports?
natasha
Thu, 8 Aug 2013 22:29 EDT
how to get my passport renew
I will like to Know where I can go to renew my passport in Montreal

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