Thursday 20 September, 2018

Jamaica on the way to being a digital society - Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given an update on the controversial National Identification System (NIDS), which he said will take Jamaica into the digital age.

The prime minister made the comment on Tuesday while making his contribution to the 2018-2019 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

The NIDS Bill was passed into law in November 2017.

Mr Holness used his presentation to clear up what he said were misconceptions about the US$68 million loan that is being used to finance certain aspects of the NIDS.

He said only 20 per cent or US$13.6 million is actually to be used for the NIDS.

“The balance will be used to build out the ICT infrastructure of the Government. That is where all the servers will be … that we (will) put right throughout Government. We will ensure that the software is there… everything that we need for a digital Government,” Holness said.

“We are going to become a digital society, make no mistake about that. We are 90 per cent complete with all the business processes needed to implement NIDS,” he added.

The prime minister said a legal working group will be established shortly, to develop the regulations that will accompany the NIDS legislation.

In acknowledging that the NIDS Act did not benefit from wide consultation, Holness expressed hope that the regulations that will govern the Act will be treated differently.

To that end, he said he has instructed the NIDS team to ensure that “everyone who has any concern, that they be contacted… that when the committee is put together, it is publicised so people can send in their concerns, and their concerns should be addressed.”

In terms of public education, the prime minister said some 68 consultations were done last year, and 37 since the start of this year, with interested groups and individuals.

In addressing privacy concerns, Holness said the necessary protections are being put in place, including with the Data Protection Bill, which is now before Parliament, “as well as protections built into the National Identification and Registration Act and pending regulations.”

The prime minister assured that the legislative framework will be supported by ensuring that Jamaica “procures the best quality system and processes to protect and host our data.”

Under phase two of the programme, shortlisted vendors will be asked to submit a final technical and financial proposal for the NIDS solution in April. A high-level technical team across the Government, along with local and international cyber security experts, will evaluate and recommend the best solution for the country.

“Jamaica now leads the region in developing its framework to become a digital society. On full implementation, I am sure that the ease of doing business, public order and security and citizen participation and financial inclusion (will be realised),” Holness said.