Government and human rights group in war of words over new identification project
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Government Wednesday dismissed a statement by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) that described as “reckless in the extreme” the signing of an agreement to operationalise e-governance without the framework legislation covering Data Protection being in place.
In a statement, the GHRA said that given the haste, absence of public consultation and threats to the integrity of personal information and the seeming illegality of sole-sourcing the project, it is calling for the project to be paused and submitted to Parliament.
The GHRA said Guyana is unique in the Caribbean at present in having no electronic transactions legislation to displace time-consuming and stressful paper-based procedures, for example, in registering births and deaths, creating a bank account or registering a company.
It said moving data across borders for processing offshore is the essence of multinational business.
“This does not sit easily with Guyana's love affair with pieces of paper accompanying every conceivable business transaction. For all of these reasons, Guyana needs to transition to an e-world, but to do so with circumspection,” the GHRA said.
It said the “most prudent course of action would be for Guyana to engage with CARICOM in an effort to ensure that this new project harmonises with and benefits from the Parliamentary experience of CARICOM States such as Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica”.
But in a statement, the Ministry of Finance said it has taken note of “certain statements” made by the GHRA on the matter of the recently concluded contract for the development of an integrated electronic national identification card.
“The statements made by the GHRA have no basis in fact whatsoever and are further undermined by virtue of having been made by an entity devoid of any credibility and any legitimacy whatsoever.
“Contrary to the false assertion made by the GHRA, the contract in question was awarded in full conformity with the Laws of Guyana including the procurement laws. Additionally, the company who will be developing the solution for Guyana is a highly regarded supplier of items of this nature internationally,” the ministry said.
The government described the GHRA as “a sham organisation” headed by an individual “who is incapable and unprepared to display any modicum of independence or objectivity in the public postures he takes."
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