Honorary Consuls given US$500 monthly to volunteer services
Amid recent concerns about the poor services offered by an Honorary Consul in Miami, USA, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge on Wednesday explained these officials are not employed by the government but they volunteer their services and receive a small stipend of roughly US$500 monthly.
A Kaieteur News article dated November 14, 2017, had reported that Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Miami, Ramzan Roshanali has been offering beneath standard services but Minister Greenidge indicated that the concerns raised are baseless.
At a press conference held at his South Road, Georgetown Office, Minister Greenidge explained that Honorary Consuls are retained in cases where a country may need to keep relations with another but may not necessarily have the finances to set up a fixed office or to employ an Ambassador.
Therefore, the Honorary Consul may be a businessman and will utilise his office and his own staff to conduct the services to the country. Given the circumstances, Minister Greenidge indicated that the situation with the Consul in Miami as reported in the Kaieteur News may not be entirely accurate.
“We don’t say to the Honorary Consul that ‘you alone’ must answer the phone because remember you are trying to minimize marginal cost. The person [Honorary Consul] has a business already, premise already, phones already, you don’t have to have them incur significant additional cost by having a new room or five new staff members,” the Foreign Affairs Minister explained.
Minister Greenidge added, “in those circumstances, do you think I can go and say to an Honorary Consul: “the phone rang in your office on Wednesday and your wife answer it or daughter answer and they have no right to answer it? We don’t pay those people.”
The Minister explained that if an Honorary Consul is not performing optimally, then steps will be taken to replace him. However, he noted that there isn’t always a long line of persons willing to offer these services for free.
“There are not millions of people out there to prepare to be honorary consuls. Many who are prepared to be honorary consuls including many who complain, cannot meet the requirement,” he stated.
The Foreign Affairs Minister further explained, “when you indicate to them what is involved, especially the lack of pay, then you get another problem.”
Nonetheless, the Minister said government plans on replacing some existing Honorary Consuls and hiring more.
The Minister said there are currently 29 persons serving in this capacity to Guyana.