Recognizing that the role of securing the borders of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a pivotal duty for Immigration officers, the Passports and Immigration Department has moved to ensure that its workers are properly equipped to handle the task.
To this end the department commenced on Tuesday March 5th 2019, a two-day border security workshop under the theme: “Forging Ahead with Determination.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Beverly Walker in her remarks pointed out that one of the mandates of the Passports and Immigration Department is that of “continual training of its’ officers.” The (Ag.) Chief Immigration Officer revealed that the job of an immigration officer entails, “the processing and issuing of travel documents, facilitation of bonafide travellers to and from this country and the enforcement of the immigration laws.”
The Ag. Chief Immigration Officer urged participants “to maximise the opportunity to improve effectiveness on the job” and stressed that issues relating to border security frequently arise and therefore emphasised the need for “constant re-tooling and re-fitting with pertinent information and skills to solidify performance on the job.”
Walker took the opportunity to outline the strides made by the Passports and Immigration Department over the years, regarding the production of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines passport which include: moving pass the issuing of manual and machine readable passports and meeting the standards that were stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Walker noted that since 2014 the Passports and Immigration Department have been issuing Electronic or “E” passports making St. Vincent and the Grenadines the second country within Caricom to issue these passports.
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in his address indicated that the process of issuing passports here is done at a very high standard and noted that many countries are not yet at this stage of service delivery. The Prime Minister however noted that the nature of this job is complicated and stressed that training is necessary, Dr. Gonsalves added that awareness of the laws and regulations which govern the Passports and Immigration department is essential in executing tasks effectively.
Encouraging officers to be cognisant of the ever “changing cultural landscape” in the environment the Prime Minister expressed much interest in improving the technologies,” and noted that being competitive means adopting a level of efficiency which is costly.
Prime Minister Gonsalves told participants the wellbeing of their families and this country are intrinsically woven into their line of duty, since the delivery of an excellent service is vital to encourage tourists to return to this country; which ultimately boosts the Tourism product. He encouraged officers to further their studies noting that resources or forms of assistance are available to pursue various programmes.
The Passports and Immigration Department’s workshop is geared at senior and middle level Immigration Officers with the task of supervising junior officers and facilitating their growth.
Topics down for discussion included: human-trafficking, CARICOM, interviewing techniques, leadership, legal documents and customer service among others.