Gov't needs to be able to identify every Jamaican in times of crisis - PM

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Gov't needs to be able to identify every Jamaican in times of crisis - PM

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Prime Minister Andrew Holness has re-emphasised the need for the state to be able to identify all its citizens, especially in times of crisis, such as the one the country is now faces.
He also called on businesses operating on the margins of the formal economy, to get registered, in order to be able to access assistance from the Government when there are economic challenges.
Holness was speaking yesterday at a digital town hall meeting on assistance to businesses, during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In between the aspirations and what we can actually deliver, there is a gap. There is a gap of implementation and there is a gap of systems. We presently cannot identify every single Jamaican; as beneficiary identification systems are not as strong as they should be. What we are learning in crisis is that we need to be able to identify all Jamaicans,” he said, noting again, the need for a national identification system.
“This is the real test of the society now. Are we in a time of crisis able to identify everyone? And the answer is no,” he remarked.
He noted that some people and entities, such as those in the entertainment and public transportation sector, may not be able to access the assistance programmes being rolled out by the Government.
“We have a large informal system particularly that covers bars and taxi men, will the benefits that we are proposing here actually get to them? It's very difficult to say. We are opening the door if they become formalised, but if they don't, it's going to be very difficult to take up taxpayers' resources which are formally placed in the system and prioritize those who are not formally in the system versus those who have taken the time to register,” he outlined.

He added that, “now is the time to become formal. The Government is not your enemy, we are here to help and we want to know every single Jamaican. Now is the time to get your business registered”.

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