COVID, new systems, forged documents force delay in issuing birth certificates– General Registrar

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The implementation of a number of new systems, along with reports of fraudulent birth and death certificates are among the reasons for the delay in the issuing of these important documents.

Registrar General of the General Register Office (GRO), Raymon Cummings told the News Room that incorrect spelling of names and addresses also contribute to the lengthy time taken for these documents to be issued.

Delays also came after the GRO had to shut down four times this year after a number of staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Cummings said in an effort to make the certificates more secure and safe, the public must take into consideration of the reality of the situation.

“Most of the delay has to do with birth certificates – it is due to the fact that there was a period of time in 2020 after the COVID broke in Guyana where the department, I am told, was shut down for over four months,” Cummings explained.

This shutdown created a huge backlog, but Cummings assured that this is being sorted. Now all birth certificates issued are printed from a database.

Cummings said about 500 certificates are printed within one day. This database assures a high level of security and authenticity.

Registrar General Raymon Cummings

The authenticity of the certificates was questioned after death certificates started appearing from persons who were found to be alive during the national recount of votes cast in the March 2020 Regional and General elections.

Cummings further told the News Room that quite a number of persons were found with certificates, but there was no record for them at GRO.

“We had no proper accounting of certificates, that is the blank copies that were printed as against the live copies that were issued,” Cummings stated.

He explained that they are currently printing birth certificates received in June this year and by mid-October, the production rate should be back to normal or even faster.

In May this year, GRO began issuing computer-generated certificates (including death, marriage and birth certificates), with embedded security markings, including a Quick Response (QR) Code to the top left corner.

In 2014, the government started the process to digitize all records through assistance from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).

Cummings however, explained that the system was not being used for the intended purpose up until the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, Cummings revealed that they are aware of persons who applied for birth certificates through post offices, but have not received it.

“I saw someone said they applied for a birth certificate in 2019 and they hadn’t received it as yet; that is a real issue we face,” Cummings said.

As such, another system was implemented, which is to have all mails registered to allow for persons to sign for the certificates when they are delivered.

According to Cummings, persons who genuinely need certificates make contact with the office and they are facilitated.

Since assuming the Position as Registrar General, Cummings said a website has been activated along with Facebook and Instagram pages and a Whatsapp account to allow for interaction with members of the public, given the usage of social media in Guyana and the pandemic restrictions.

Persons who encounter challenges and delays can contact the office via WhatsApp number 610-9394 and Facebook/General Register Office Guyana.

Persons are also asked to provide clear and accurate information when applying for certificates.

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