Fri | Sep 22, 2017

IDB considers US$68 million loan for national identification system

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will consider making a loan of US$68 million to the Jamaican Government to assist in implementing the National Identification System (NIDS).

The project status remains within the preparatory stages for the IDB. The IDB listed the project as an initiative to spur "economic growth," according to the listing on the bank's website. The development bank did not immediately respond to Financial Gleaner queries about the project. The IDB described the loan as benefiting and modernising the State.

"Estimated IDB financing is US$68 million," the IDB said about the project, titled the 'Implementation of the National Identification System for Economic Growth'. The IDB has posted information on the site indicating that its loans to Jamaica total US$3.6 billion.

The NIDS would create a cradle-to-grave biometric identification with a unique identification number for every Jamaican resident. It's essentially aimed at countering fraud and facilitating compliance with an identification system similar to the United States social security number.

In September, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said he wants to get the NIDS operational by January 2018. The administration, since taking over government in February this year, has prioritised the setting up of the NIDS.

On December 14, the IDB approved financing for two previously disclosed projects, including US$15 million for an energy management and efficiency project, and US$50 million for fiscal structuring programme.

Transformative effect

In October this year, Holness said the national identification system is expected to have a transformative effect on Jamaica, providing a comprehensive and secure structure to capture and store personal identity information for citizens and other persons residing in the island.

He said that given all the processes involved in setting up the system, the 2018 target date for it to be operational is ambitious, but achievable.

Holness said the information will be accessible through databases and computer networks.

Some $14.98 billion was allocated towards the system this financial year.

In March 2015, while in opposition, Holness had called on the then government to fast-track implementation of the system, which he said will help in fighting crime.

Making his contribution to the Budget Debate in Parliament, Holness referred to the spate of murders across the country, saying additional measures are needed to help the police to track down perpetrators and bring them to justice.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com