The Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that it will hire companies to operate consular services, such as visa applications and passport renewals, after a controversy was sparked by alleged irregularities.
In a press release, the Foreign Ministry announced the call, open to local and international companies, to submit proposals to operate consular services.
The project will initially be implemented in six cities, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Boston, Caracas, Beijing and Santiago de Chile, according to the call for bids.
The announcement is made after Listín Diario published an investigation in which alleged irregularities in Dominican consulates in several countries were denounced.
In Haiti alone, this newspaper recorded that at least some 3.7 billion pesos were collected by the five Dominican consulates in that country for issuing visas between 2015 and 2020. In addition, the sale of visas at different prices and without an established regulation for all applicants was denounced.
In the United States, the complaint has been the cost of services, and that many Creoles prefer to come to the Dominican Republic because of the prices that the consulate has for the issuance of a passbook.
The privatization of consular services will allow “significant progress in the reduction of waiting times, improvement of communication channels and transparency in the income received”, states a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Following the “successful experiences” of countries such as El Salvador, Italy, Guatemala and Spain, the Government of the Dominican Republic “seeks to significantly transform the way in which consular services are provided, starting with a pilot plan in six locations in the first year”, the note added.
Taking into account the results obtained with this pilot, the intention is to extend its application to more cities in order to have a management “that takes advantage of the available tools around the efficiency demanded by users,” it added.
The Dominican Republic currently has 47 consulates and 30 consular sections in an equal number of embassies, which serve a diaspora of over 2.5 million people, in addition to the visa procedures carried out by foreigners who move to the country mainly for work purposes.