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Nepal MPs say popularize national ID before mandating for service access

Nepal MPs say popularize national ID before mandating for service access

Some lawmakers in Nepal are unhappy that the government is in a rush to make the national digital ID card a requirement for access to some government services such as social security payments.

According to The Kathmandu Post, the members of parliament of the CPN-UML, who are currently in the opposition, have criticized a recent announcement by the country’s Home Affairs Minister that from next month, some services including social security and welfare benefits, will be obtained only with the use of the national ID. The move follows a decision arrived at during a cabinet meeting on June 6.

To them, efforts must first be made to popularize the ID and expand its reach among citizens before such a move can be initiated to make it compulsory to get access to important services.

In the near future, the government says the ID card will also be mandatory for those seeking to establish a new driver’s license, passport or purchase a SIM card. But for the moment however, the Home Affairs Ministry says the requirement will be enforced in 28 districts around the country for dispensing security payments.

The MPs have called on the government to suspend the move, arguing that people who are mostly social security beneficiaries such as senior citizens and people with disabilities find it extremely difficult obtaining the national ID card.

One of the MPs said while the implementation of the national ID rule by the government is a positive thing, it shouldn’t be done in a rush. Another asked for an extension of the deadline, suggesting that mobile teams be deployed to enroll people who have difficulty reaching ID registration offices due to age, sickness or physical infirmities.

Meanwhile, My Republica has in an editorial decried the delays that characterize the ID card issuance process.

The publication mentions figures from the Department of National ID and Civil Registration which indicate that out of 14.8 million registrations for the national ID, just nine million people have received their card.

Such delays have been blamed on bureaucratic practices and government red tape. However, the editorial suggests that for the problem to be addressed, a number of actions must be taken including increased sensitization and the availability of ID verification technology, among others.

In an interview with The Kathmandu Post, Yubaraj Katel, director general of the Department of National ID and Civil Registration, emphasized the importance of the card and why the government is making it mandatory for services.

He says the national ID replaces multiple cards and makes it easier to access services through biometric verification.

Other than social security allowance payments, Katel says the card is now also compulsory for pensions and health insurance claims.

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