Four-dozen kiosks for passengers arriving at the Grantley Adams International Airport are to be fully functioning soon, Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson announced today in the House of Assembly during the debate on the Data Protection Bill.
And the white and blue E/D forms (Entry/Departure cards) – bugbear of travellers to Barbados – are to disappear as the Immigration Department moves to digitise its files, he said:
Hinkson told lawmakers: “We have now installed 48 kiosks at the airport… a tremendous achievement within just over a year of our administration.
“We are in a position now to move towards full utilisation for every tourists, every passenger coming into the country of the kiosks.”
The Minister said he and two other Government ministers met at the airport just last weekend to advance the process.
He said: “Saturday afternoon, my colleagues the honourable Minister of Tourism and International Transport and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and I spent three hours at the airport trying to further the process of the elimination of these E/D cards.
“Immigration has assured that these [kiosks] are now sufficient even in peak period that all passengers would be able to use this and give their basic information.
“That will be their name of course, when you slip the passport through it gives all the biometric information your date of birth, your citizenship, [and] of course, your gender.
The attorney-at-law-parliamentarian explained that the same way Government is seeking to protect the data of Barbadians, foreign countries wish to do the same for their citizens.
He said; “This act is important because other countries require that we have this type of legislation to protect the data information which we collect through immigration from their citizens.
“More might be required in other instances from the Europeans and we may have some challenges there but this is part of the process.
“The same way this is the legislative platform whereby we protect information on our citizens which is given to other countries and to parties and businesses situated outside of Barbados… subject to issues of national security.”
The Minister also decried the impact of the physical forms on the environment.
Hinkson said: “There are E/D cards sitting down in thousands but there are in boxes.
“They are making a havoc of the environment and if you want information, who is going to go among hundreds and thousands to find it?”
The Immigration Department is one of two departments that the Ministry of Innovation and Smart Technology has been working with to digitise records in a push towards e-government.