OECS moves to strengthen cross border movement of peopleTuesday, April 13, 2021
CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — The St Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission Tuesday announced plans for a joint initiative that will help build foundations for digital identity systems and secure access to essential public services like education and health care across the nine-member sub-regional grouping.
It said that NRD Companies, a global IT and consulting group specialising in e-governance, has finished developing an action plan for implementing a unique ID system in four OECS member states, namely Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The other countries in the sub grouping are Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.
The OECS Commission said that the unique ID system seeks to facilitate cross-border movement of people and goods and refine e-governance systems.
“The new strategy outlines the necessary steps for the development of a single unique identifier issued to all citizens and residents of the OECS Member States. This will strengthen the civil registry processes and the issuance of national ID cards.
“The OECS unique ID System will also enhance citizens' identification when traveling throughout the OECS Economic Union Area (EUA), which is important for granting indefinite stay entry at the official border and securing access to essential public services like education and health care throughout the economic union member states,” it added.
OECS Director General, Dr Didacus Jules said the implementation of the unique ID in the OECS has become even more relevant and necessary in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He said the pandemic significantly impacted the OECS region due to existing vulnerabilities, limited economic diversification and lower levels of digitisation.
“OECS unique ID has to be seen in the context of future developments as an enabler of public physical and electronic services within the region and beyond. The development of a reliable and fully functioning unique ID and digital ID could bring substantial economic benefits to the individual OECS Member States and region at large,” Jules added.
NRD chief executive officer, Mindaugas Glodas said countries of OECS face a number of common challenges like high fiscal imbalances and debt ratios, while at the same time being exposed to external shocks.
“Public sector modernisation is key to ensuring a free flow of persons and goods as part of a regionally integrated Economic Union, as well as improving overall efficiency and competitiveness in the region. We are happy to have had the opportunity to help OECS take the first steps towards implementing a unique ID system,” he said.
The OECS said that the new system is expected to help build and strengthen foundational digital identity systems, introduce unique identifiers at birth at the national and regional levels, outline a single integration layer with (and between) functional and functional external systems, assure access control, as well as lower development and maintenance costs.
It said the next steps in the project include agreement on conceptual design, deciding on governance structure, the designation of responsible organisations, drafting and endorsing required legislation, and selecting and implementing technical solutions.
The implementation of the OECS unique ID will be financed by the World Bank OECS Regional Health Project (ORHP) and the Regional Integration through Growth Harmonisation and Technology (RIGHT) Programme financed by the European Union (EU) 11th EDF.
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