A&B AG Announces Major Overhaul of Immigration Department

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Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin

By Robert A. Emmanuel


The Immigration Department will see a revamp of its administrative hierarchy as the Attorney General called for an improvement in the customer service offered by immigration officers.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin — who is also the minister responsible for immigration — said that he has employed a human resources management expert to aid in developing the new management structure.

“We are going to restructure immigration from top to bottom. In the police force, we have the Commissioner, we have two deputies, and we have other persons beneath them to carry out other functions. In immigration, there is no such structure; just the Chief [Immigration Officer] and just [ordinary staff] after that,” the Benjamin said.

One of the recommendations he made in Parliament was for the establishment of a Deputy Chief of Immigration for administration and another for operations.

As part of the reforms planned for the department, the Immigration Minister also called for the establishment of record-keeping in relation to employee work hours.

“Too many persons report sick, too many persons go to work late; so we got equipment to show persons when they come and leave work … if you don’t want to work, transfer,” Minister Benjamin indicated.

Benjamin referenced the inefficiency in visitor immigration processing which he said was due to a lack of immigration officers at the airport.

He also explained that promotion will no longer be based on time served within the department, but a performance-based assessment instead.

“We are going to introduce a system where promotions will be dealt with on performance … professionalism, efficiency, proficiency, and representing Antigua and Barbuda, because the first persons the tourists come into contact with are immigration officers, and the last persons they come into contact with are immigration officers,” he noted.

The minister also shared his ire with the lax attitude with which he said some immigration officers approach their job.

He revealed that during random visits to the country’s ports of entry, he saw immigration officers “processing passengers, having earphones on, taking her time, [the passenger] standing up in the line arguing and she isn’t taking them on”.

Benjamin added, “That cannot work and has to stop.”

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