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MPs challenge proposal to spend $15M on Ghana Cards for children

MPs challenge proposal to spend $15M on Ghana Cards for children

Opposition lawmakers in Ghana’s parliament have stood up against a proposal by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to spend the sum of 200 million Ghana Cedis ($15.2 million) for the production of national ID cards (Ghana Cards) for children between six and 14 years of age.

My Joy Online reports that the idea was challenged by a lawmaker and former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who urged the NHIS to focus on its primary mandate of settling claims instead of coughing out such a huge sum of money for a project that could well be handled by the National Identification Authority (NIA).

Corroborating this point, another MP and Minority Chief Whip, Kwame Governs Agbodza, expressed concerns with what he said is the huge spending on digital projects engaged by NHIS.

Both lawmakers have called for an audit into the spending options of the NHIS, which include an allocation of over one billion Ghana Cedis (over $75 million) for several ICT-related undertakings, including a biometric ID card authentication system, the outlet points out. The officials believe the government agency is engaging in misplaced spending.

Agbodza also accused the NHIS of failing to comply with an earlier parliamentary request for an audit.

The NHIS has defended its proposal saying issuing Ghana Cards to children within the cited age group would eliminate the need for the cards to be issued in the later stages of their lives

The issue of producing national ID cards for children comes at time when the country has launched the issuance of Ghana Card number for children at birth. Initially planned to be rolled out in August last year, the move finally went underway this month, with Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia saying it will drive up the rate of birth registration in the country.

In what looks like some progress for Ghana Card enrollment in the west African country, the NIA recently disclosed that 17.9 million Ghanaians have registered for the national ID between April 2019 and March 2024.

The Executive Secretary of the ID authority, Prof Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, mentioned the figures during a recent public lecture delivered at the School of Technology and Social Sciences of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administrative, according to the Ghana News Agency.

Prof Attafuah is quoted as saying that of the 17,918,135 citizens who have the Ghana Card, 3,330,767 are students, 13,522,591 are employed while unemployed citizens total 1,058,393.

Enrollment during the first year of the mass registration campaign was impressive, said Prof Attafuah, adding that they recorded 250,000 enrollments in a day at some point.

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