Sun | Feb 7, 2016

Government cuts budget for ID system

Published:Thursday | February 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM

DESPITE PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller last March charging technocrats to ensure that the National Identification System becomes a reality this year, her administration has swung the axe and taken out a huge chunk of the budget the programme was given last May.

The Government had budgeted $15 million for the programme, but in the first supplementary estimates tabled in the House of Representative on Tuesday, the Government is proposing to slice $6.3 million of that amount this year.

A notation in the budget said the revised amount is due to lower than projected expenditure.

In March of 2012, the prime minister, in a speech delivered by minister with responsibility for information, Sandrea Falconer, said "The absence of a central identification system, and not having the right piece of identification, often leads to all kinds of frustrating experiences for our citizens, especially for the poor.

"Whether it is in applying for a job, opening a bank account, accessing services, including the services of Government, or even registering for an educational opportunity," she added.

"One unique and secure ID will also reduce the risk of identity theft. Our fingerprints and other biometric data are unique to us," the prime minister said.

She had argued that the national identification system will ensure that more citizens have easier access to the services of the state.

"We must make it easier for citizens to apply for and renew such facilities as driver's licences and filing of income and other tax returns. We must also ensure that the transactions our citizens conduct are secure," she stated.