Saturday 17 November, 2018

Government seeks more public opinion on NIRA regulations

Chief Technical Director in the Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, has advised that public comment will be invited on the regulations being developed to govern the National Identification and Registration Act (NIRA).

The NIRA, which was passed amid controversy in the parliament last November and which is now the subject of a court challenge brought by the Opposition People’s National Party, will guide the National Identification System (NIDS).

This will see each Jamaican being given a unique nine-digit number which they will carry from birth until death.

"The regulations will go on the NIDS project website for the public and media to provide feedback. It will then be finalised for submission to Parliament," said Lynch-Stewart. She explained that the regulations, which will underpin the governance framework for the NIDS, are being developed through a multi-sectoral working group, which includes representatives from the church, civil society, and the public and private sectors.

The technical director indicated that the regulations to guide enrolment for the NIDS will be uploaded for feedback in short order.

Lynch-Stewart, in the meanwhile, said the project team is utilising research and international best practices in the implementation of the NIDS project.

"In putting in the system, we are making sure that we are using international best practices for everything. So, we have done a tremendous amount of research in relation to the countries that have introduced a national ID system. We are learning from the errors and successes of other countries," she said.

 The pilot for the NIDS project will be rolled out in January 2019, starting with public-sector workers.

Lynch-Stewart said a community will also be selected for the roll-out of the pilot.

"We haven't taken a decision as to which community will participate in the pilot as yet, but this is so we can get a feel of how the system functions and learn from it so that when we reach to the national roll-out, we would have had some experience as to what worked and what didn't," she said.

Lynch-Stewart said it will take approximately three years to complete enrolment of at least 80 per cent of the population.

"It is important that Jamaica understands that this is not an overnight thing, and we are doing it in a methodical way, in a structured way, because we need to make sure it's done right," she said.

She further noted that there will be a transitional period during which both older means of identification and the national ID will be accepted.

"When we reach that tipping point of most of us registered, then the prime minister will take a decision that as of a specific date, the national ID will be required," Lynch Stewart said.