I had the unfortunate experience of going to the Registrar General’s Department to start the process of registering my son. Everytime I have to do any administrative thing as required by law (birth certificate, passport, drivers license), I am extremely annoyed at the level of service provided by government agencies here.I must hasten to add though, that there have been improvements in many government agency services and the offices from which they operate. The physical locations are now not so much the depressing, sweat-shop-type ergonomic set up we were used to in the past. By that I mean, the offices are now carpeted and have air conditioning for the most part which is a vast improvement in my opinion.
I arrived at the RGD to a full office of waiting citizens. The place was jam packed and from listening to them, learnt that the place was now empty compared to earlier that day. It took us about 1 hr to get through after getting a # that was next in line. When we enquired, we were told that some persons were before us who had to wait on something or the other and another person was doing a lot of things. All in all, however, when it was our turn, we were in and out in approximately 15 minutes, not including paying the cashier for services rendered.
So, all in all, the experience does not have to be a frustrating one. However, for some reason, people who work at these agencies seem to have the mobility of a snail, moving only that fast to get their job done. What can also be annoying is seeing so many people behind a desk or PC who are not attending to the public and in our minds are not doing anything. I’m ok with the small improvements made, but they have a long way to go. There is just too much red tape required to get things done. And … after receiving the Registration of Birth Form, I now have to wait 6 weeks before I can apply for copies of the actual birth certificate! Why???? I wish I knew.
Just recently, the Ministry of Health announced that persons would be allowed to register their children at the Registrar even if they have not paid their hospital bills. What obtains now is that the hospital provides you with the record of the birth of the child which is taken to the Registrar to have the child officially registered. However, if you fail to pay your hospital bill in full, this record is witheld until payment is received, thus preventing parents from registering their child. I believe this to be plain negligence. I agree that it is expensive, especially at a private hospital to have a child. The government hospital charges next to nothing for the facility and still persons do not pay and then suffer when their child needs to attend school, do GSAT exams, etc. The reports were that there were over 10,000 (I think) children who were not registered in Jamaica, hence the move to make the process easier. IMHO, I’m not sure it will as the parents are just delinquent about getting things done. With health care costs what they are, more persons will now abscond without paying knowing that the ultimate penalty of not being able to register the child is now no longer a reality.
Let’s see what happens with this one.