PERMIT me to respond to a letter published in the Stabroek News on September 22, 2021, captioned “Frustrated with birth certificate department of the GPO”. Firstly, let me clarify that the General Register Office (GRO) is responsible for the issuance of births, deaths, marriage, and adoption certificates. It is not a department within the GPO. The Post Office Corporation acts as an agent to receive and distribute these certificates, therefore the information provided by the clerks/postal service workers may not truly represent the official position of the GRO.
Since assuming the position as Registrar General, 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 we are facing. There is no excuse for the seemingly long delays in posting out the certificates applied for; however, understanding the realities faced by the department can perhaps assist persons to reduce the waiting time. Further, we have had a number of stops/delays due to staff becoming infected with COVID-19 and having to initiate the necessary protocols.
When I assumed the position as Registrar General at the end of September 2020, I immediately began to make an assessment of what was and what could be done to improve what we were doing.
Further, I was advised that at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the department was not producing certificates since it was closed for a period — that was during the recount when only selected persons were called into work. This created a serious backlog.
I would not dwell on what transpired prior to me assuming this appointment, but persons who have had to do transactions with the office can testify that the main concerns were the security and authenticity of the documents issued by the department.
The government in 2013/2014 had initiated a project to digitise all the records of the GRO, while this was done with the aid of the IOM, it was not being used in the way intended up to the end of 2020. The production of certificates generated by the database lends for a high level of security and authenticity. A decision was then taken to produce records from that database; the issue of the delivery system then had to be addressed. Certificates were produced and delivered to the post office but there was no system of recording its delivery. Hence, a decision was taken to have all mails registered to allow for persons to sign for the certificates when they were delivered.
Two issues are now being addressed to ensure faster delivery of the certificates; the processing of new births and deaths and changes/corrections to the official records which can only be done at the Head Office at this time.
At present, we are printing about 500 certificates daily. We are currently printing applications received at the post office in June this year. Our distribution is a little behind and should catch up with the rate of production by the end of September 2021.
Persons who seem to have long delays may need to check with the office using our social media contacts as there may be issues with your records that may need clarity/corrections. Persons applying for certificates can assist by providing as much information as possible on the application forms and ensuring the address provided is clear.
We can be contacted on WhatsApp 610-9394; Facebook/ General Register Office Guyana website gro.moha.gov.gy