Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Avoid NIDS extravagance

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM


I was astonished to read in The Gleaner of January 9, 2019, a report quoting the prime minister as describing the spending of almost $6 million over six months on the advertising campaign for the National Identification System (NIDS) as an example of "efficiency and frugality".

The campaign literally says, "NIDs is for you." There are other conclusions that I think would be more appropriate and which run contrary to that claim. His comments seem inappropriate, especially when juxtaposed against our current mad scramble to finance the fight against yet another dengue epidemic.

Central to the NIDS debate is whether we should be spending this absurd amount of money on 'Franken-NIDs', an extravagant, expensive, intrusive, excessive and redundant approach to enacting a national ID, or opt for the easier and cheaper option of building on the Tax Registration Number (TRN), adding signatures and pictures and using facial recognition to ferret out duplicate records.

We already have the TRN embedded in our digital landscape and its expansion is limited only by legislation.

Instead, we choose to go for an expansive rebuild that invades our privacy and requires the adoption of a new coding scheme simply because we have tapped a huge reservoir of borrowed funds.