Senate Passes NIDS BILL with 168 Amendments

The National Identification and Registration Bill, which seeks to establish a reliable identification system for Jamaicans, was passed in the Senate on Monday (November 13) after 12 hours of deliberations.

The legislation was passed with 168 amendments and will return to the House of Representatives today (November 14) for approval.

A National Identification System (NIDS) is intended to provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans.

Each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN), which they will have for life.

Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the Government intends to put the infrastructure and systems in place over the next 12 months.

“The pilot would begin in January 2019, and the national roll-out is intended to commence in September 2019 (and will be undertaken) over a period of three to four years. NIDS is not an event; it is a journey, a transformation of how we do business,” she pointed out.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, urged the Government to ensure that the public education programme that is to be developed will be “designed in such a way, that it will get full participation of the public, who can make their thoughts heard”.

She argued that the number of amendments to the Bill, including 100 from the Lower House, is an indication that it should have been put before a joint select committee.

Senator Johnson Smith, in response, said, “I believe that it is actually the converse. We have demonstrated that with focus, with energy, and with cooperation, we can make changes in a timely manner.”

The layered roll-out and management of the NIDS will be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), which will replace the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and provide more enhanced services.

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