Tue | Mar 31, 2020

Big spending on NIDS this year

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:31 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness shows a poster printed for NIDS during a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. The Holness administration has made the identification system an important objective during its term of office.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness shows a poster printed for NIDS during a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. The Holness administration has made the identification system an important objective during its term of office.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) plans to start heavy spending on the controversial National Identification System (NIDS) for the fiscal year ending March 2021.

The projection is for $1.6 billion in capital spending for the upcoming fiscal year, with roughly three-quarters of that spend on equipment and fixed assets related to its implementation, according to the 2020-21 Estimates of Expenditure tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The Government’s revised estimates show no spending on NIDS by the OPM in the fiscal year slated to end on March 31.

NIDS would create cradle-to-grave biometric identification with a unique number for every Jamaican resident. It would also counter fraud and facilitate compliance. Such a system would, in some respects, mirror the United States social security number.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Government plans to establish six pilot enrolment sites for NIDS, roll out a wider communication plan, and also revise the NIDS policy and bill.

Late last year, the Government updated the nation on the NIDS project, arguing that it would revise the policy in keeping with recommendations in the Supreme Court, which ruled as unconstitutional the National Identification and Registration Act on which NIDS gains its legitimacy. The first amendment will allow the project team to focus on the ICT upgrade activities until a new National Identification and Registration Bill is tabled.

Between fiscal years 2021 and 2024, the Government plans to expend $8.8 billion on the project financed by an Inter-American Development Bank loan.

Last November, a consortium led by Productive Business Solutions Limited won the vendor contract to supply ICT infrastructure and equipment for the NIDS project valued at some US$6.4 million.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com