Friday 22 March, 2019

Disabled community on board with NIDS

Members of the disabled community are looking forward to the benefits they will enjoy with their inclusion in the proposed National Identification System (NIDS).

This is according to Chief Technical Director in the Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, who said mentally challenged persons in particular “are very happy with what is to come”.

“They are locked out right now. They can’t get an ID because you can’t get one if you’re mentally challenged – you can’t get a voter’s ID and you cannot get a driver’s licence. The only thing they have access to now is a passport, which is very expensive if you are not traveling,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Lynch-Stewart, who was addressing a meeting of the Rotary Club of Kingston at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (November 8), said that the disabled community has been included in the process to introduce NIDS, noting that “they are on board with us and working with us”.

“We have been working very closely with the disabled community. Right now, we are working on the regulations to the law, and they are actively a part of the working group, because we are making every effort to make sure that we recognise whatever the needs of that community are, and that’s why we have brought them to the table as they know best what they need,” she said.

NIDS is intended to provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans. Each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), and an identification card that they will have for life.

In the meantime, Mrs. Lynch-Stewart informed that members of the public will have a say in determining what information will be displayed on the proposed National Identification card.

“As soon as we have a final mock-up of what the card will look like, it will be shared with the public for comments,” she said.

She noted, however, that it would be unlikely that information such as a person’s address will be included on the card, as addresses may change over time, and it would be impractical to have persons update the card each time.

Following the implementation of NIDS, Jamaican citizens and legal residents will require only one ID to access government and private-sector services. This is to ensure the safety and the security of their identities, boost efficiency and reduce costs while improving quality of life.

The rollout of NIDS is slated to begin with a pilot project in January 2019, focusing on civil servants. The layered rollout and management of the NIDS will be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority, which will replace the Registrar General’s Department and provide more enhanced services.

The National Identification and Registration Bill, which sought to establish NIDS, has been enacted. The legislation was passed in both Houses of Parliament in November last year.

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