Seniors complain about new ID card charge
An unannounced charge for ID cards for seniors sparked complaints yesterday about government communication.
A senior in his seventies, said the ID cards, used to get seniors free public transportation, were once issued at no cost but will now have an $8.11 fee slapped on them.
The senior, who asked not to be named, found out about the charge this month when he went to get a new driving licence and renew his ID card.
He said: “The driving licence was free, but the senior’s card cost $8.11.
“What I found strange was that my new driver’s licence was free. Why charge for one and not the other?”
The man, from Pembroke, said that the charge did not create a financial problem for him, but that it was “another bill for seniors to pay”.
He added that the pass had been free for 11 years and he had not been told of any changes to the policy until he went to get a new pass after he changed address.
A spokesman for the Transport Control Department said that an administrative fee of $8.11 was imposed at the start of June to cover the production costs of seniors’ ID cards.
He added that the ID cards cost TCD $16.22 to produce but an internal audit ruled it was “foregone revenue”. But the tourism and transport ministry ordered the cost to be passed on to seniors.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport said that the $16.22 charge was halved for seniors by the Motor Car Act 1951, which entitled seniors to a 50 per cent reduction on all licence charges.
She also confirmed that a public announcement on the change was not made and that seniors were told when they went to collect new ID cards.
Charles Jeffers, the deputy chairman of senior advocacy group Age Concern Bermuda, said the failure to publicise the new charge was another example of a lack of government communication.
He added that the extra expense, as well as a land-tax increase, which caused seniors to worry about how they would make ends meet after it was implemented this month, was a “great concern”.
Mr Jeffers said: “We live in the communication age. The fact that we have to search and investigate for answers over changes to public fees and taxes is a problem. Sometimes an explanation is all that is needed.”
Drivers’ licences for people aged over 65 will continue to be issued free of charge.
• UPDATE: This story was amended to make clear that the senior involved needed a new ID card because he changed address.
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