Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Bureaucracy comes with a price.

This is not a comment on Bosnia or the Bosnian systems of administration that owe much to its communist history. Today we came up against the sharp end of the British system. For reasons too dull and long-winded to explain here we needed to get photocopies of our driving licences authenticated at the British Embassy in Sarajevo. Rowan had phoned ahead to check when and where we needed to arrive, as the Embassy has two sites. We arrived on a crisp, snowy morning after a fairy-tale train ride through a winter-wonderland of Herzegovinan and Bosnian mountains. It was a fantastic start to a day, despite needing to be up early to get the train. If there was any chance that we’d not shaken of our slumbers Her Majesty’s Government was on hand to deliver a rude awakening.

It takes less than five minutes to check four photocopies against original documents and apply a stamp indicating their authenticity. For this privilege the Embassy extracted a sum of money in three figures, whether you measure it in Pounds, Dollars, Euros or the Konvertible Marks we had to hurry off a get from a nearby hole-in-the wall! If you multiple this up to create a speculative hourly rate someone, somewhere, could be raking in a cool four figures, which is not bad in any of the currencies I’ve already mentioned. So far tales of our lightened bank balance have met with disbelief. ‘Aren’t they supposed to help you?’ said one local, unable to grasp quite why there wasn’t a way around this bureaucratic balls-up. While not particularly in the mood to leap to the defence of the realm I should concede there was a price list for consular services nestled in a collage of other information on the wall, and the Embassy staff were polite, efficient and remembered to smile as we emptied our wallets. Rule Britannia!

1 comment:

leah marie said...

It's not just your embassy...mine's been equally UNhelpful. quite unfortunate, isn't it?