To get a passport or an ID issued, one has to wait for over three months. The electronic system does not allow bookings over two months in advance, so it is virtually impossible to sign up. This problem has persisted at the PMLP for a long time, since the summer of last year.
Issuing passports and ID cards are not the only services: PMLP also controls the formation of documents for arrivals, asylum seekers, and refugees. In order to relieve the PMLP at the time of the influx of Ukrainian refugees, some of the functions of the institution, such as the assignment of personal identity numbers, have been transferred to municipalities.
PMLP said that there is an increase in load every ten years, when a large proportion of people have to change documents, and the effects of Covid downtime and the war in Ukraine are also showing now. The number of documents issued during the year has more than doubled. 23 thousand documents were issued in March 2021, nearly 60 thousand this year. Employees, meanwhile, are overloaded and underpaid.
New employees are offered a salary of €675 after tax during the probation period and €795 afterwards. The government's decision last week on additional money for PMLP shows that the salary could also be around €1,000 for new employees, but PMLP said it would not be the case.
“Yes, we have an opportunity to offer a higher salary right now. But we can't hire outside employees on the [higher] salary when our employees are already working for less pay,” said PMLP head Maira Roze.
Andrejs Judins, Chairman of the Saeima Citizenship and Migration Affairs Commission (New Unity), said wages were not in line with job responsibilities.
“EUR 675 – clearly the wage needs to be higher. And the current solution is that territorial units that work more effectively and service more customers receive a premium, which of course is good. But it doesn't solve [the issue] by nature. Therefore, the question is directed to the Ministry of Interior, and I also heard the readiness of the Minister for the Interior to increase wages,” he said.
Interior Ministry Marija Golubeva (Development/For!) confirmed there is an initiative but it is unknown to what extent. The Ministry of Interior is convinced that additional staff, as well as the provision of PMLP services at municipal customer centers, which are also planned to be introduced in the near future, should improve the situation. According to PLMP's representative Maira Roze, though, capacity issues will persist for some time until all the planned tasks are done.
From next year, the ID card will be made mandatory. This is also a test for PMLP's capacity, as it will have to be issued to those who did not see the need for such a document until now. Penalties are planned if the document does not exist, however, if it is not issued because of PMLP's insufficient capacity, the penalties would likely not be imposed.