Following on the heels of shocking admissions by Prime Minister Dean Barrow that he has heard of – but not seen evidence of – visa quotas for Ministers and institutionalized “hustling” and the scandal surrounding former fellow Junior Minister Elvin Penner, it is another possibly crippling blow to an administration that needs no more scandals. Senior Cabinet Minister John Saldivar was quick to distance himself from the mess on Thursday, but told reporters he would like to see more proof.
Reporter: “Are you or were you involved in any way in this immigration scandal?”
Reporter: “What about other ministers of the Cabinet? Is the Cabinet itself investigating any other person other than Minister Penner? Minister Castro’s name has also come out”.
Hon. John Saldivar: “They will have to answer for themselves?”
As for investigation into the latest allegations, John Saldivar again demurred.
Hon. John Saldivar: “At this point in time, I would like to think that the Channel 5 reporter has not provided to me any proof so far. But I expect that Mr. Castro will be able to answer for what he has been accused of”.
Reporter: “Are you aware of anyone having such an abrasion where they would have an intermediary who would bring passports and then you help with the application, you give your recommendation…were you aware of such a system?”
Hon. John Saldivar: “Definitely not if there is such an operation”.
Reporter: “But when that fit with this information of a coater system, there you could say, well, I got twenty visas to give this month, and then they send visa applications”.
Hon. John Saldivar: “I think the Minister of Immigration has said that there is no coater system. I don’t know of any coater system.”
As we mentioned, Edmond Castro has not been available for comment. Prime Minister Barrow is to return to the country on Friday.
Earlier this month, we spoke with Minister of Immigration, the Hon. Godwin Hulse about the alleged visa quota, here’s what he had to say.
“ I don’t know where they got that information from. No minister in this country is allowed ti sell visa; nobody in this country is allowed to sell visa. The process to get a visa is applying to the Department. When you apply to the Department, there is a fee you pay. The Chinese, I think pay 2,000, Indians pay something else and other nationals pay another price: you apply there and you get your visa. There are some requirements you have to make; you have to have a legitimate passport, you have to make sure that you can pay your stay, and you can pay your way out of the country, and once those criterias are met, you’re good to go”.
Reporter: “So, what you are saying categorically that this system does not exist?
Hon. Godwin Hulse: “There is no systemwhere people come and apply and have quotas…I don’t know where that comes from! What we have done in the Ministry, so that we don’t swamp the Department is to make sure that we look at the vetting first to make sure that people who apply, meet the requirements; that is standards before they go there and swamp the director. That’s no special system”.