President of Suriname Desi Bouterse.
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PARAMARIBO – President Desi Bouterse has announced a significant decrease in the fees paid by illegal Chinese immigrations to regularise their status in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country even as the authorities said that they had deported 61 foreigners including 22 Chinese nationals in January.
According to the official figures released here, the authorities also deported 27 Brazilians, nine Guyanese, two Dutch and a Congolese national last month after they failed to regularise their status.
Speaking at celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year on Friday, Bouterse said that illegal Chinese nationals would now have a three-month period to pay US$ 2 000 in order to regularise their status.
“We Surinamese people like surprises. In March, April and May it will be US$2 000 and after that US$3 000 again,” said Bouterse.
The announcement was welcomed by prominent legislator, Stephan Tsang, a Chinese descent, who has on several occasions voiced his concern regarding the legalisation process and fees for illegal Chinese immigrants.
Tsang told reporters he was surprised by the move adding “we are happy with the gesture, but I think the amount can go lower”.
When the project ‘Legalisation of illegal foreigners’ was launched in September 2017 it was established that nationals from Caribbean and South-American nations would have to pay US$600, while illegal aliens from elsewhere, including those from China, were asked to pay US$3 000.
The authorities estimate that as many as 15 000 foreigners reside illegally here.
Foreigners who are illegally in the country are given two years to get their status in order under a “general pardon”.
“The price seems high, but it’s based on what they would have to pay if they were to return to their country to start the process,” Justice and Police Minister, Ferdinand Welzijn, said then at the launch of the project.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Chinese Association, Chen Jin Hua, used the occasion on Friday to urge the authorities to help crack down on the crime against Chinese nationals here.
Over the last several months, several Chinese-owned businesses have been robbed and Jin Hua said: “we demand more effective measures to prevent crime and heavier sentences to protect the citizens of Suriname”.
Bouterse promised that the government “will try to do a much better job”. (CMC)