Tue | May 21, 2019

Opposition leader says gov't must account for borrowed funds for NIDS

Published:Tuesday | April 16, 2019 | 2:19 PM
Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips - File photo

Leader of the Opposition and President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips, says government must immediately account for the US$68 million borrowed from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the implementation of the National Identification Registration System.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court ruled that aspects of the controversial National Identification and Registration Act (NIDS) violate the constitution and declared it null and void.

Responding to the call from the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) for the opposition to work along with the government to establish a new national identification programme, Phillips, in a statement today, said the PNP has always supported the need for such a system.

On several occasions, the Party has expressed its interest in being a part of a workable solution that guarantees a system that does not infringe on the rights of Jamaicans, enshrined in the Constitution.

According to Phillips, the government exercised undue haste in rushing the NIDS Bill through the parliament, disregarding the calls from the opposition, the church, the Jamaican Bar and other stakeholders to take the critical steps to protect the people's rights to privacy and access services, among others.

The mighty rush, Phillips said, was to meet a deadline for the IDB loan.

“Flying in the face of the court challenge, the government hastily squandered millions of dollars in an advertising programme and rollout; even boasting about collecting data from public sector employees for this now unlawful system. Whose decision it was to ignore the presence of the Constitutional Court and continue using funds in a vulgar manner to instigate public support for the flawed Bill?” the opposition leader asks.

Phillips says the Opposition will today in Parliament table a series of questions on the funds spend on NIDS.

Opposition questions on NIIDS

1. Will the Prime Minister state how much money has been spent to date on the NIDS project in total and specifically in the following areas?

a. Hiring of personnel including consultants, advisers and permanent staff

b. Advertising, Public Relations and Communications

c. Purchase of equipment, technology

d. Data collection

2. Will the Prime Minister state the following details of the contracts that the Government has entered into with third party providers for goods and/or services related to the NIDS project:

a.     Name of provider

b.     Contract price/value

c.      The goods and/or services provided or to be provided

d.     The amount paid on each contract to date or paid for the goods/ services bought

e.     The date the contract was entered into or the goods/services were bought

3. Will the Prime Minister state the procurement methods utilised to select the providers in each contract?

4.  Will the Prime Minister state what is the country’s exposure to contractual obligations and what action will now be taken by the government as a result of the Constitutional Court ruling in relation to each contract that is still existing?

5.  Will the Prime Minister state how of the IDB loan funds have been spent to date on NIDS and other projects?

6.  Will the Prime Minister state whether data was collected from public sector employees or any other persons as part of the NIDS project,?

7.  If the answer to question 6 is yes, will the Prime Minister state what is being done to ensure the privacy of the data collected and what will now be done with that data?

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