Junior minister wants national ID system fast-tracked

Saturday, July 09, 2016

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MINISTER of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Fayval Williams says the time has come for Jamaica to fast-track efforts to establish a national identification system for its citizens.

She said that implementation of this system would assist persons in obtaining personal and other social benefits for themselves and for their children.

Williams was taking part in a panel discussion on ‘Civil Registration and good governance: An approach to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’, at the inaugural two-day Caribbean Civil Registration and Identity Management conference, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James on Thursday.

The state minister said the process towards the establishment of a national identification system for Jamaica started over three decades ago, and while there have been 17 years of bipartisan parliamentary efforts, the matter remains a work in progress.

"The goal has been to afford a convenient and reliable means to verify identifications to assist with governance and distribution of socio-economic benefits, assist in citizens’ security, prevent identity fraud and assist in law enforcement," she said.

Williams said the integration of identification information across all government ministries and agencies will result in major cost reductions to both the State and individuals.

"The long-term impact of the system is expected to be cost savings for the Government, efficiency gains for the citizens, more equitable tax collections, increased tax compliance, reduction in poverty and crime, strengthening in immigration and border control, improved safety and national security. In addition to the social returns, the cost benefit model for Jamaica suggests an economic rate of return of 212 per cent over seven years," she said.

According to Williams, the Inter-American Bank (IDB) estimates that the national identification system will cost Jamaica US$50 million and she has invited the bank to come on board as a partner.

On Thursday, Danville Walker, chairman of the Registrar General’s Department, urged State agencies with responsibility for protecting the identity of citizens to start working together to produce one database for Jamaicans.

Walker, who is also managing director of the Jamaica Observer, spoke at the same Caribbean Civil Registration and Identity Management conference.

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