NASSAU, Bahamas – The Department of Immigration recorded a revenue surplus of over $9.8 million due to a new fee structure and vigilance in the collection of outstanding fees, Minister of State for Immigration the Hon. Branville McCartney revealed during the Mid Year Budget debate in the House of Assemble Wednesday.
The Immigration Department collected an estimated $32,827,361 million for the period July 1, 2008 to March 2, 2009, he advised. For the period July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, the Debt Collection Unit of the department collected $29, 248,012 – a variance surplus of $9,841,888.
“This is due in part because of the new fee structure which came into effect on July 1, 2008, and the vigilance by the Immigration Department of collecting outstanding fees,” Mr. McCartney said.
Since the formation of the Debt Collection Unit the Department has seen an improvement in payment of permits, he said.
Records compiled by the Unit also reveal that 70 companies have been audited in New Providence and were found to owe the Government $834,718.74 in permit fees. A similar exercise carried out in Grand Bahama found that 330 files were audited with approximately $1.5 million found to be outstanding.
“As for those companies who owe the Department money, the Department will not be minded to issue further renewals without either a settlement of outstanding fees or a payment plan arrangement,” Mr. McCartney said.
He also warned that the Department is actively pursuing those persons who violate Immigration laws.
The State Minister noted that the Immigration Department’s total revenue forecast for 2008/09 is $38,651,317 million. The projected revenue estimate for the first half was pegged at $19, 406,124.
The Immigration Department was allocated $18,695,006 in the 2008/2009 Budget. Of that amount, $8,766,693 was allocated for salaries, $3 million for overtime, $2 million for repatriation and $1, 321,076 for Family Island operations.
“The repatriation of illegal immigrants continues to absorb a large sum of the Department’s budget and our country’s financial resources,” Mr. McCartney said.
He reported that between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 repatriation expenditures amounted to $411, 353.50. From January, 2000 to December, 2008 a total of 44,614 Haitians were repatriated to Haiti and 9,714 other nationals were repatriated to their homeland.
“It is because of these facts that the Immigration Department has accelerated its efforts to identify, apprehend and repatriate persons who are here illegally,” Mr. McCartney said.
From January, 2000 to December, 2008 the Department spent an estimated $7,941,848 to repatriate illegal nationals to their homeland.
“The Department will expend sums of money in the area of human resources and training during the final half of this fiscal year,” Mr. McCartney. “I am of the view that training is key. Emphasis will be placed on customer service training, registry training, computer training and foreign languages.”
Plans are also underway to hold motivational seminars and to carry out improvements to working conditions, purchasing of surveillance cameras and vehicles for apprehension exercises.