Precious document: Dominica passports
Precious document: Dominica passports

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has addressed citizens' concerns regarding the delayed issuance of the e-Passport, citing ongoing renegotiations with the Canadian Bank Note, the company responsible for printing these passports.

During a recently held press conference, the nation's leader, in explaining the situation, stated, "Concerning the availability of passports, because we had placed a period where you had to transition from the old passports to the new passports, you would have found that people rushed and used up all of the passports which we would have programmed for a longer period."

He further elaborated, "Then the agreement that we had with the Canadian Bank Note came to an end, and we had to go through the process of renegotiating the agreement."

Although the new agreement he noted has not been signed, Skerrit reassured that despite the challenges, additional passport books have been procured, allowing for the issuance of passports in tranches.

While facing an unfortunate setback earlier this month, he expressed optimism, stating, "But I think as the days go by, we are overcoming that challenge." He added, "We are making good progress, and I am hoping in the next few days we can sign this agreement, and this issue we have will be an issue of the past."

According to him, the government ordered 50,000 books in total, "and so they are unable to give us the full quantity one time, so they are going to be sending to us in tranches, but now we have some books, and so we are issuing passports."

The Prime Minister also addressed the financial aspect, revealing that Dominica owes the Caribbean Bank Note Company Limited but stressed that this was not the primary issue. He emphasized the importance of separating the contract for passport books from that of border security machines, ensuring a more precise agreement process.

"That was not the prevailing issue," he stated. "The prevailing issue was that the guys wanted to secure the next contract for the next few years," he explained. "We hadn't done that, and if you owe them, that is compounded, and so on. So, we have been able to address this and separate the issue…"

He went on to state that there are two components to the agreement. Firstly, the provision of the books and secondly, the border security machines where the passports are read.

"The first contract agreement we had with them was for these to be together; what we have said to them separates the two," Skerrit explained. "So, we make a requisition for books we pay you; that is separate from the equipment considerations because there are other details regarding the issues relating to the software and the hardware that they provide to us."

Highlighting the advanced security features of the new e-Passports, designed by the Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, Skerrit assured citizens of the passports' adherence to international standards. The passports feature overt and covert security elements alongside a microchip for identity authentication.