Efficiency and Effectiveness Hallmark of Border Control Agency — Joe Issa
Oil and energy guru Joe Issa, who is said to have a penchant for doing important things well, states that effectiveness and efficiency are the hallmark of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), whose advisory board he now chairs.
“All the measures being implemented are geared at achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness in the pursuit of the major goal of securing Jamaica’s borders from illegal persons entering by sea and air, as well as from foreign fishing vessels, drug traffickers, and invading outside forces including terrorists,” said Issa, noting that the initiatives also help to identify and deport illegal immigrants.
Stressing the significance of the measures, Issa referenced figures stated in Parliament which show that last fiscal year 507 people were refused entry into the country and 138 deported. Also, more multiple passport holders have been identified and prosecuted.
In disclosing the stats during his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, Minister of National Security, Robert Montague,
also informed that facial recognition software, which had been introduced into PICA’s passport application process, has identified 473 multiple passport holders, of which 73 are already before the courts, the JIS reported.
Among other measures being implemented are: the employment of additional immigration officers; introduction of online passport application, e-passports and e-gate for landing; increased cooperation with partners; and greater use of international watch lists.
In addition, Minister Montague revealed that the billions of dollars which have been invested in acquiring two ships and a surveillance plane to patrol Jamaica’s borders are already paying dividends.
“We have seen dividends already where, recently, three ships illegally fishing in our waters have been boarded. We have chased go-fast boats out of our space,” he is quoted as telling Parliament.
In the area of terrorism, Minister Montague said that anti-terrorism laws would be amended and a consultant hired “to write a terrorist response manual for Jamaica,” adding that “we have already started to harden our defenses, rearrange soft targets and have invested heavily in our intelligence network.”
He added that increased information sharing was taking place with the Ministry’s partners and work on more bilateral agreements had begun.
Stating that the Government is taking terrorism seriously and has started the training of police officers, Minister Montague assured the House that much work is taking place.
According to Issa the recent initiatives, including the construction of a purposeful building to replace the existing one on Constant Spring Road is testimony to a thrust at the agency to make efficiency and effectiveness the hallmark of its operations.