Jamaica considers fast-tracking national digital ID system to accelerate pandemic relief response

Jamaica considers fast-tracking national digital ID system to accelerate pandemic relief response

Jamaica’s government is discussing fast-tracking the implementation of its digital National Identification System (NIDS) in order to ease its efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said at a recent press conference reported by the Jamaica Information Service.

The government has introduced initiatives including a program to allocate resources to assist workers and businesses during the emergency period known as COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE), an employee support and cash transfer program titled “BEST Cash,” and another employee program “Set Cash.” Holness suggested the use of NIDS could make cash transfers more efficient, with less need for identity verification.

“It is clear that if we had the national system of identification, it would be far easier for the Government to provide this kind of individualised benefit,” the Prime Minister said.

“The truth is, we now don’t have that system. We’re behind in its implementation. We still have a new legislation to bring to the Cabinet and to the Parliament.”

Holness emphasized the importance of the system, saying “we are going to move as quickly as possible within the boundaries of the law and Constitution to ensure that every citizen of Jamaica has a unique identifier that will be able to ensure that whatever benefits that come from the Government will go directly to them.”

Jamaica was already trying to bring more government services online, which would require digital identification.

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