Option to fine for NIDS offence to be inserted in bill
Leader of Government Business in the Senate Kamina Johnson Smith says an amendment will be made to the National Identification System (NIDS) legislation to give a parish judge latitude to order that persons who refuse to enrol be given community service instead of a fine not exceeding $100,000.
"If it is to include everyone, if it is to truly work and not just be something that we do part way, it must be mandatory.
"What is important is the demonstration that we are serious that this is a new requirement," Johnson Smith said on Friday while opening the debate on the legislation in the Upper House.
She told her colleagues in the Senate that the intention was not to implement a fine for non-compliance from the outset. She said the imposition of a fine for failing to enrol with NIDS would be introduced three years after the bill is passed.
Johnson Smith made it clear that the offence would not result in a criminal record against persons who refuse to comply.
The mandatory provision was inserted in the bill when the Lower House debated and passed the law recently.
At a forum on the NIDS, staged by Jamaicans for Justice in September this year at the University of the West Indies, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, chief technical director of the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division in the Office of the Prime Minister, had said the NIDS enrolment would not be mandatory.
However, she had also indicated that the bill (before it was passed in the Lower House) was not cast in stone, noting that adjustments could be made during the parliamentary debate.
According to Johnson Smith, the NIDS would reduce incidents of fraud and identity theft. The NIDS will be the new system to capture clean, verified, biographic and biometric data, she added.
"The fact is that, far too many of our people have no known identify before the law; they are undocumented and therefore, in some ways, they are invisible to the State."