A fast widening rift that has developed in the Cabinet over the defeat of the National Identification System Act (NIDS) in the Constitutional Court is threatening to topple some members of the Andrew Holness government.
According to some members of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister is pursuing a course of action that will not advance the issue of establishing a national identification system; instead, he has chosen a path that can only result in political disaster.
The Prime Minister is accused of flying in the face of good governance, snubbing the Judiciary and approve big spending of public funds and loans on promoting the useless project despite the Court challenge.
According to a senior Cabinet member, the Prime Minister behaves as if he is above the Constitution and does not take advice from those who have the knowledge. He listens only to those around him who agree with his views and this does not augur well for the future of his government nor the country.
The members say that the timeline for the national identification system shows that both sides made honest efforts to develop the system the disagreement lies in how the system will be implemented.
Then-Prime Minister Bruce Golding on September 27, 2011, launched the National Identification System (NIDS) which was supposed to see every Jamaican citizen in possession of a national identification card that will have universal application.
The launch took place at Jamaica House with a formal exchange of a technical cooperation agreement between the Governments of Jamaica, the Republic of Korea and the Inter-American Development Bank which have partnered with the government to provide funding to the tune of US$670,000. The Government of Jamaica has provided an additional US$120,000 for the project.
At the time Golding said ‘There are some knotty issues that have to be addressed. We are going to have to make a policy decision as to how this identification system will interface with law enforcement functions’. He said a full communications programme will be rolled out to sensitize and educate the public about the NIDS programme because it will not just capture names but will include all the information that the ID card should cover, the integrity and security of which, will be beyond any doubt.
In March 2012 after a Portia Simpson Miller-led People National Party won the General Election it was announced that more work was being done on the site. According to the Jamaica Information Service, the then-Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has charged the relevant technocrats and stakeholder agencies to ensure that the National Identification System (NIDS) becomes a reality within that year.
She noted that exploration must be made into the utilization of digital technology to capture data so that the individual’s identity can be undisputed, and the threat of identity theft eliminated.
She said that care should be taken in the search for an effective and efficient system of national identification to ensure that it is secure does not compromise matters of national security, or the privacy rights of individuals, or is above what Jamaicans can afford.
BY: Anthony Henry
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