Phillips wants spending on NIDS

Saturday, April 13, 2019

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OPPOSITION Leader Dr Peter Phillips says the Government should be aware that there are implications for the contract which it recently signed for the data processing of the proposed National Identification and Registration System (NIDS), as a result of yesterday's ruling by the Constitutional Court that the legislative framework for the system is null and void.

Dr Phillips urged the Government not to persist in wasting taxpayers' resources, as it must determine a way forward for the legislation before proceeding further.

Last week Cabinet approved a contract for US$31.7 million to a consortium, led by local company Productive Business Solutions, to provide data centre hardware, software, public key infrastructure, and the National Identification System (NIDS) solution, to be implemented over five years.

The Office of the Prime Minister said the procurement process started on April 25, 2017, with the publication of a request for proposals locally and internationally.

Dr Phillips said that millions of dollars have already been spent on NIDS, noting that even when the legislation was before the courts the Government had persisted on “spending massively” on a public relations campaign, which was contrary to the spirit of traditions that matters before the court ought not to be the subject of public discourse, until they have been settled by the courts.

Commenting on the implications for the funding that was secured from the Inter-American Development Bank for NIDS, the Opposition leader said the monies spent thus far would have been wasted. “In this instance, you have a classic example of haste wasting the taxpayers' money, because it's a loan, not a grant. The NIDS legislation itself was just one aspect of the overall loan package and the other elements could have gone ahead. Let's find the proper way to put a good piece of legislation in place,” he urged.

Government, said Phillips, now has to take stock of the court ruling and determine how it is going to proceed, as there were a number of possibilities in moving forward.

He said after reviewing the judgement the Government should look at preparing new legislation that does not breach the fundamental rights of citizens, and which allows for a meaningful collaborative approach involving all stakeholders in the society.

— Alphea Saunders

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