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Jamaica, Pakistan look to ease cash assistance programs with digital ID

Bhutan’s and Philippines’ initiatives advance
Jamaica, Pakistan look to ease cash assistance programs with digital ID

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the country has to accelerate the implementation of its National Identification System (NIDS) to give a good number of citizens easy access to different cash assistance schemes. In Pakistan, authorities in the province of Sindh are planning to roll out a social intervention program which will enable women to benefit from cash support using the biometrics-based Benazir card, while national digital ID projects in Bhutan and the Philippines report progress.

MoU for ID verification pilot in Jamaica

Jamaica recently reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with financial institutions for a pilot on the identity verification and authentication services component of the national digital ID.

The move comes amid reports that thousands of Jamaicans are yet to receive their share of the COVID-19 welfare relief funds via the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) because they cannot show proof of their identity, reports The Gleaner.

The government said in April that about $300 million Jamaican dollars (US$1.95 million) was still uncollected by applicants, although JM$17 billion (US$111 million) had been disbursed to 500,000 beneficiaries.

Speaking on the issue during the MoU signing ceremony, Prime Minister Holness regretted that this would not have been the case if the country was further along with the implementation of the NIDS.

According to the PM, the NIDS will give the country an ID system that will enable the digital transfer of cash resources, and will also solve the problem of elderly persons queuing up at post offices to collect pension payments.

Spending seems more forthcoming on biometric voting systems with recent contracts to Thales for voter identification, and to Pangea for managing its voter register.

Sindh partners with federal gov for poverty alleviation, Bhutan goes digital

The government of Sindh is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety to run social support initiatives that will distribute cash transfers, scholarships, nutrition and vaccinations to poor women and children using the Benazir card, reports the Pakistan Observer.

Authorities say all women eligible for the scheme will be informed by text messages specifying where they can pick up their cash, and they will be able to do so only through biometric verification.

The objective of the scheme is to assist the poor and less privileged by reducing their socio-economic vulnerability, said Sindh’s Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, as he also disclosed that negotiations with the World Bank for $200 million of support over the next five years were well on course.

Pakistan this week announced that it has issued one million Afghan refugees with biometric ID to access services.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Bhutan has also announced the launch of its National Digital Identity (NDI) program, for which a biometrics capture campaign was announced last October.

Per the local government website for the Lhuentse region, the launch of the program coincided with the birth anniversary of Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen – the Queen of Bhutan. The program is unfolding nationwide and with the support of Desung National Services.

The country is implementing the digital ID program to enable citizens have access to a wide range of digital services.

PhilSys numbers rise

The latest update from the Philippines adds some 6 million to the 60.4 million registrants who had as of mid-March completed the biometrics enrollment of Step 2 registration for the national digital ID, PhilSys.

An announcement by the government’s Philippine News Agency says over 72 percent of the 92 million people targeted have registered, and more than 8 million Filipinos have received their first bank accounts. More than 11.5 million PhilID cards have been issued so far.

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