Programme Director Says NIDS Will Serve to Eliminate Corruption

Jamaica information Service

Programme Director of the National Identification System (NIDS), Warren Vernon, says the system will serve to eliminate the prevalence of corruption across several government agencies.

“You have persons being paid to deliver quality services, but because of inefficiencies… you don’t get these services on time, so, as a result, you have to pay somebody to get it done for you quickly,” he said.

Mr. Vernon was speaking at a seminar on the NIDS, held at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) in Kingston on March 13.

He pointed out that the cost of corruption in Jamaica is more than $60 billion annually, noting that those who are benefiting from illicit activities are highly opposed to the system.

“We are introducing a system to eliminate, if not significantly minimise corruption, identity theft and fraud, and to make sure persons are not invisible to the State (so that they can fully benefit from government services),” he said.

The NIDS is being facilitated under the National Identification and Registration Bill, which was passed in the Houses of Parliament last year, and will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans.

Under the system, which will have anti-fraud features, each citizen will have a unique nine-digit National Identification Number (NIN) that they will have for life.

It is expected that the NIDS will become the primary source for identity assurance, authentication and verification, in order to improve the governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.

In the meantime, Chief Information Officer, Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), Natasha Sampson, said NIDS will be a “source of truth for identity” and will significantly enhance the efficiency of the operations of TAJ.

Pointing to some of the advantages of NIDS for the TAJ, Ms. Sampson noted that its introduction will lead to reduced processing time and reduced administrative costs; improved accuracy, currency and overall quality of data; increased ability to identify and locate taxpayers for compliance activities; and a widening of tax base due to increased access to third-party information.

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.

Roll-out of NIDS is slated to begin with a pilot project in January 2019, focusing on civil servants.

The seminar, which was held under the theme ‘NIDS: Vehicle for Change or Invasion of Privacy’, was hosted by a group of administrative assistants and secretaries from various government ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs), who dubbed themselves ‘Administrative Visioneers’.

The event was part of the evaluation process for the group, which is currently pursuing a diploma in the Administrative Management Programme at MIND.