Senate Begins Debate on National Identification and Registration Bill

Photo: Michael Sloley Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, opens the debate on the National Identification and Registration Act, in the Upper House on Friday (November 3).

Story Highlights

  • The National Identification and Registration Act, 2017, which seeks to establish a reliable identification system for Jamaicans, is expected to be passed at the next sitting of the Senate on Friday (November 10).
  • The Bill seeks to facilitate the establishment and regulation of a National Identification System (NIDS) for the registration, verification and authentication of the identity of citizens and other persons residing in Jamaica; and the establishment of a National Civil and Identification Database to generate national identification cards.
  • In the meantime, Mrs. Johnson Smith noted that when the NIDS is implemented it will have a positive, transformative effect on Jamaica and will improve how the Government does business as well as improve the lives and productivity of citizens.

The National Identification and Registration Act, 2017, which seeks to establish a reliable identification system for Jamaicans, is expected to be passed at the next sitting of the Senate on Friday (November 10).

This is the intention of the Government, as it seeks to secure funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to undertake the project which is being implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Opening the debate on the Bill in the Upper House on Friday (November 3), Leader of Government Business, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith explained that the administration has a limited time frame to acquire the required money.

“There is a timeline that is important to us, in respect of securing IDB funding for the implementation of the project. If we are to have the matter before the Board in time for us to stick with an effective timeline, that is to get it before their November Board meeting, then we will have to pass it (the Bill) next week Friday,” she said.

The Bill seeks to facilitate the establishment and regulation of a National Identification System (NIDS) for the registration, verification and authentication of the identity of citizens and other persons residing in Jamaica; and the establishment of a National Civil and Identification Database to generate national identification cards.

Under this system, which the Government assures will be comprehensive and secure with anti-fraud features, every Jamaican will have a unique identification number.

Its implementation is expected to result in improved governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.

Mrs. Johnson Smith, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, encouraged members of the Senate to submit suggestions or concerns regarding the Bill by next week.

“I would welcome if there are outstanding issues, on reading the amendments, if you would submit (suggestions) for amendments so that the technical people can look at them to help us to move with alacrity. It is critical that we close on Friday and therefore anything that we can do to make the process move more effectively, would certainly be welcomed,” she said.

In the meantime, Mrs. Johnson Smith noted that when the NIDS is implemented it will have a positive, transformative effect on Jamaica and will improve how the Government does business as well as improve the lives and productivity of citizens.

“The NIDS will provide us with one ID to make our lives better, one ID opening new possibilities for truly inclusive economic growth and job creation, one ID to positively transform Jamaica into a digital economy,” she said.

Debate on the Bill was suspended until the next sitting of the Senate. Mrs. Johnson Smith said this was to accommodate members who wished to attend the funeral of former Opposition Senator, Marjorie Taylor.

The Bill was approved in the Lower House on September 19 with 100 amendments.

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