Certificate fee rise should be looked at in its proper context
Letter writer, Premila Prasad, has given us pertinent points to consider instead of rushing to condemn the rise in birth, death and marriage certificate fees.
The initial shock of the increase has created the fuss.
It was to be expected because people had been used to the old fees for the last 19 years.
A fee review was on the cards. It was only a matter of when.
It has now happened and soon the noise will die down and we will carry on as normal until the next fee review. When it happens some of us may not be around. Those who do may also protest about the rise.
But that’s the reality – that’s life as we go through this cycle.
You only get a birth, death or marriage certificate once and you make one payment unless you have lost the original and all the certified copies.
Ms Prasad says a person is born once, a person dies once and a person generally gets married once. “So these fees you only have to pay once. If you argue that one may need to get a second copy of a certificate then again that will only be probably once,” she says.
“By the way how much is a kilo of yaqona? How much is a packet of cigarette? How much is it for a cup of coffee at one of those fancy coffee shops? How much is it for a big bottle of Coke or Pepsi or Sprint?
“All of these things are non-essential items and are detrimental to your health, are not once in a life time purchase. Some buy these things everyday or every second day or every third day - yet they don’t complain about it.”
She has hit the nail on the head.
Every year, the price of alcohol and cigarettes go up. It’s become a permanent feature of the National Budget announced by the Minister for Economy annually. These are luxuries that we can go without. But there are no loud protests and people continue buying them. People are so used to it now that they accept it and carry on as normal. It appears there is no drastic reduction in the number of people smoking.
While the price of yaqona (kava) went up to $100 and more for a kilo, it did not affect its consumption. In fact it seems to keep growing even though those who drink it excessively suffer from health problems.
The certificate fee, compared to the price of alcohol, cigarettes and yaqona, costs much less but it is an essential part of who we are and how we can access important services.
For a child to begin school, the parents are required to provide a birth certificate. Without it, the child cannot be enrolled.
If that child needs a passport, the parents would attach the birth certificate with the application. Spouses and family members require a death certificate in order to deal with the estate of the deceased. The cost of many items and services, essentials and non-essentials, have progressively gone up in the past 19 years.
The rise in certificate fees was inevitable.
We need to change our mindset and look at this issue holistically by prioritising what is important for us.