Sun | Oct 17, 2021

Find common ground on NIDS – business groups

Published:Monday | April 15, 2019 | 12:20 AM

Jamaica’s three most powerful business lobbies have urged the country’s political leaders to seek consensus on the National Identification System (NIDS) even though the legislation that underpinned it was struck down as null and void by the Constitutional Court last Friday.

NIDS was championed by the Holness administration as a crucial plank in social organisation and crime fighting but was ruled to be a contravention of Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

The National Identification and Registration Act stoked controversy among privacy-rights and religious groups as too intrusive, and its mandatory component, which carried the threat of a $100,000 fine and criminal prosecution, was considered oppressive. The law also proposed to deny non-compliant citizens access to government services.

“We call upon the leaders of both political parties to set aside any temptation to continue to contest this subject in the sectarian political arena and act to ensure that Jamaica receives not only the full benefit of the financial support to implement the identification system, but the early and valuable improvements that effective legislation will bring to our citizens,” the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association said in a joint statement.

The business groups said that while they respected the decision of the Constitutional Court, they were convinced that a new NIDS was crucial to the country’s Vision 2030 goals.

“We strongly urge both political parties to immediately commence consultations with a view to settling the contentious differences in the legislation and avoiding the provisions which offend our constitution so as to return a bill to the House and enable a smooth and early passage,” the groups said.