Contact: Shannon Lebourne
Thursday, December 17, 2009 – Citizens accessing the services of of the Registry of Civil Status are expected to benefit from major improvements in service and general operations, now that the Civil Status Bill has been passed by the Parliament.
On Tuesday, government, independent and opposition Senators all gave the nod to the bill—ratifying a similar decision which was taken in the lower chamber the week before.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Dr Nicholas Frederick who is also the attorney general, says the Civil Status Bill will facilitate radical changes to the civil status process in Saint Lucia.
“I am pleased to say that notwithstanding the complexities of the issues which were involved in the process, some constitutional while some dealt with complex administrative issues. I am glad that this bill has successfully gone through the House of Assembly. A vast number of the problems currently being experienced by the public will now be addressed in the coming months.”
Dr. Frederick says the new bill provides for on-line registering and the decentralisation of registry services and will service a wider cross section of society more efficiently.
The attorney general says a very important provision of the Civil Status Bill is the appointment of an adjudicator who he says, will save members of the public hundreds of dollars.
The adjudicator will be responsible for rectifying incorrect and incomplete civil status records.
“The present situation is that if there is the slightest error on your birth certificate, even if it is just one letter in the wrong place, you need to go to a lawyer and pay approximately five hundred dollars so that the rectification can be executed. The new Act will permit the the changes to be made within the registry for a small service fee. My only concern it that it will be a difficult task for a single adjudicator to cope with the influx of people who will come to the registry when the adjudicator takes up duties early in the new year,” Dr. Frederick said.
Dr Frederick however gave the assurance that government will do all in its power to ensure that the work of the adjudicator is carried out effectively and efficiently.
Opposition Senator Honourable Damian Grieves, commended the government for its efforts towards developing and enacting a proper Civil Status Bill.
He says it is a step in the right direction to modernise various aspects of the administration of government.
“We had the modernisation of the criminal and civil codes and now we have come to the modernisation of the civil status and I think this augers well for the future for many reasons; so I really want to commend the government side for this,” Greaves noted.
However, Senator Greeves advised the government to implement appropriate measures to ensure that the Registry of Civil Status operates at its optimum in the interest of all Saint Lucians.
The Attorney General reiterated government's commitment to the efficient functioning of the Registry of Civil Status, assuring that the registry will provide effective and efficient services to the public in the months and years ahead.
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