Contribution to the Debate on the National Registration and Identification Bill, 2017 – PM Holness

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Prime Minister, the Most Honourable, Andrew Holness. (File)

Story Highlights

  • Mr. Speaker, discussions about a NIDS has been on-going for too long as the Government and people of Jamaica have been discussing the introduction of a National Identification System for over 40 years.
  • At present Mr. Speaker, Jamaica does not have a national identification database which can reliably and uniquely verify the identity of its citizens.
  • I therefore repeat Mr. Speaker that Jamaica does not at this time and has never had a secure National Identification System that can uniquely and reliably verify the identity of its citizens.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my honour to submit for the consideration of this Honourable House today, the National Identification and Registration Bill, 2017, which was tabled in this Honourable House on the 6th of June 2017.

Mr Speaker, members will recall that on March 21, 2017 a similar Bill was tabled by me, however, because of deliberations that continued with valuable stakeholders, the Government listened and thought it best to withdraw the original Bill and table a new Bill taking into account the feedback received.

Mr Speaker, the Government listened to the people and responded.

The National Identification System project, spearheaded by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) commenced in 2011.

In my 2016 Budget Presentation; I advised this Honourable House and the people of Jamaica that the implementation of the NIDS would be a priority for my administration.

The NIDS project team was re-energized and as a result a White Paper was tabled in this Honourable House on November 8, 2016.

Mr. Speaker, discussions about a NIDS has been on-going for too long as the Government and people of Jamaica have been discussing the introduction of a National Identification System for over 40 years.

Mr. Speaker now is the time to cease talking and to act on this vital tool for the betterment of the people of Jamaica.

At present Mr. Speaker, Jamaica does not have a national identification database which can reliably and uniquely verify the identity of its citizens.

What we have at this time Mr. Speaker is the existence of a number of specific identification systems and cards for various Ministries, Departments and Agencies For example, The Tax Administration of Jamaica issues a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN).

We also have a driver’s licence regime which authorises individuals to drive on our roads and this licence is also used and accepted as an identification card.

The Passport, Immigration, Citizenship Agency as well as the National Insurance Scheme, and the National Health Fund also have their own systems.

We are all also aware that another form for identification in use in Jamaica is our Electoral Identification Card. It must however be noted that the purpose of the electoral card is for the individual to exercise his democratic right to vote.
The point is Mr. Speaker; all the systems referred to above and many more not mentioned are in fact sectoral and functional systems created for a specific purpose by the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

I therefore repeat Mr. Speaker that Jamaica does not at this time and has never had a secure National Identification System that can uniquely and reliably verify the identity of its citizens.

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