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Jamaica prioritizes establishment of national identification system

Debate on the National Identification and Registration Bill began last week in Jamaica’s House of Representatives with Prime Minister Andrew Holness saying that the government is committed to making the establishment of the National Identification System (NIDS) a priority.

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

It also provides for the establishment of the Registrar General’s Department as the National Identification and Registration Authority, which will have responsibility for the project’s implementation.

NIDS, to be rolled out in 2018, will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to capture and store the personal identity information of all citizens.

The system will have a “positive transformational effect” on the country and serve to improve the lives of Jamaicans, explained Holness. “It will support the ease of doing business by impacting positively on security-related programs, while promoting financial and social inclusion, as well as compliance with tax laws.”

According to Holness, under NIDS, every Jamaican will have a unique nine-digit identification number that will support identity authentication and verification in a consistent way across government agencies as well as for the benefit of the private sector. This will facilitate fast, accurate identification, improved delivery of services by government agencies to the citizens of Jamaica and persons ordinarily resident, as well as improved delivery of services by the private sector to its customers.

The system will also provide for reduced duplication of efforts in establishing, verifying and managing identity; increase growth of e-business; create social and financial inclusion; reduce identity theft and fraud, and enable real-time capture of all vital statistics, which will better inform national planning, and completeness and quality of data.

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