A two-year programme to prepare Jamaica for a full roll-out of a National Identification System (NIDS) for every citizen is to begin soon.
The technical work for NIDS, which is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Korean Poverty Reduction Fund will include preparation of a legal framework for the system in addition to administrative, information and communication technology needs.
When in place, the NIDS will be a secure structure that provides an effective and convenient system for identification verification.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding said it was important that every citizen be able to produce a means of establishing sound identity.
"We have long recognised that we need a central composite, multi-purpose system of identification," Golding said as he addressed Tuesday's launch of the system at Jamaica House in Kingston.
According to Golding, Jamaica had developed varying forms of identification over the years, but a lack of funding had prevented them from being rolled out in a significant way.
"But this project won't be as expensive as we thought because so much information is already available," he stressed. But the challenge, Golding said, is putting it all together.
The Korean Poverty Reduction Fund, through the IDB, has provided some US$600,000 which Golding said will be used to do a number of things in preparation for the system.
He explained that it will assist in preparing a proposal for a legal framework.
"There are serious legal and constitutional issues which will conflict with a citizen's right to privacy and the usage the system is to be put to, as well as the access which will be available," Golding said.
He explained further that a policy decision would be made to determine how it relates to areas such as law enforcement.
An ITC framework is also to be designed as well as a communication strategy to sensitise Jamaicans.
"People will fear it because they will think it will cause them to be hauled into a tax system for the police to identify them," Golding said.
An implementation programme will also be designed as well as a cost-benefit analysis.
The NIDS will be integrated with multiple services so that "every citizen will have natural identification data and have a national ID", Golding explained.
Meanwhile, Ki-Mo Lim, Charge D'Affaires at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, said the NIDs is meaningful in many ways.
"The Government will better identify the population and plan for people and better improve the services for the people," he said.
He stressed Korea's willingness to share its development experiences as well as technology with Jamaica in developing the system.
He also reiterated the Korean Government's strong commitment to continued co-operation with Jamaica.
Ancile Brewster, country representative of the IDB, said they had worked closely with the Jamaican authorities to develop a design best suited to Jamaica's needs and environment.
"We hope to have a Jamaican model to serve as a beacon for other countries in the region," he said.