Bill to amend Local Government Act to eliminate need for travel to NP
FN News Reporter
A bill to amend the Local Government Act that would allow family island administrators to perform some of the duties of the registrar general underwent its second reading in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government V. Alfred Gray said, the bill would eliminate the need for family islanders to travel to New Providence to apply for copies of their birth certificates and other documents such as death certificates, which administrators would be empowered to issue.
"This bill will provide for the family island administrator to be able via the Internet to download copies of your birth certificate right in his office right in Abaco sign on behalf of the registrar general and off you go to your house or wherever you live," Gray said.
He said Abaco would be the first island that would benefit from the bill.
"The family islands and the people of those islands are special people and any relief that could be brought on their already difficult lives must be met with joy," he said.
Gray noted that it is a costly process for family island residents to travel to Nassau when they need to secure a copy of a birth certificate.
He encouraged Bahamians if they have documents that are important to record them at the Office of the Registrar General so in the event they are lost, they will be able to get a copy.
"If it's recorded, any copy produced under this bill certified by the administrators in the family islands will be just as good and can be used in any court of law, could be used in any bank as a document of worth just because of the power that the registrar general will give to the administrators of the family islands who sign these copies on their behalf," Gray said.
Member of Parliament for a Long Island and deputy leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) Loretta Butler-Turner said she supports the bill.
"In regards to those of us who represent family islands, we know what the inherent challenges are for persons who live in family islands to be able to access proper documentation and certification of legal documents for ownership of land, for birth recordings, for death recordings and other such matters," she said.
Butler-Turner said it has been difficult to maintain records of persons who have died on family islands or to have their deaths recorded as in instances when there is the need for an autopsy, when one is performed the documents are sent to the islands to be recorded and many times they are never returned to be registered at the Office of the Registrar General.
"I think that the e-platform government that we now have in place will allow that sort of reciprocity to ensure that deaths being recorded in the family islands are also forwarded immediately to Nassau for the central registrar to certainly have those on record," she said.
Butler-Turner said it is important that now the roles of family island administrators are going to be expanded, the documents they record on behalf of family islanders must be recorded accurately.
"Should a mistake arise and an affidavit has to be gotten to correct that mistake, maybe there can be a mechanism put in place where the Registrar General's Department does not throw that cost to the paying public," she said. "That is a very real issue that happens day in and day out."
Butler-Turner said she supports the amendment and noted that she approves of the Government making use of the e-government platform that will facilitate the initiative.
© 2012 The Freeport News