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Eustace unaware that new MP-ID System was launched in March

Eustace unaware that new MP-ID System was launched in March

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The Opposition Leader and President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) has publicly criticized the implementation of a new identification system within St Vincent and the Grenadines – accusing the Government of operating in secrecy on the matter.

However, the Multipurpose Identification (MP-ID) System was launched just over two months ago, with several local media houses having attended said launch and having reported on the matter.

Speaking on the New Times radio programme (Nice Radio) yesterday morning, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace spoke on the issue with particular regard to the fact that it will be issued to citizens of secondary school age.{{more}}

“The ID cards will be given to people in secondary schools – the fourth and fifth forms… Parents are written to and asked to participate in this programme. I did not hear any announcement of this programme before the last few days… I believe this is something that we should know about,” insisted Eustace.

“I believe that something like this should have been announced to the public; there is no question about that in my mind… No announcement was made.”

He continued: “Given the fraudulent things that we have seen during this election, I am uncomfortable about such a system being implemented at this time in St Vincent and the Grenadines… I don’t like this at all!”

The NDP president also asserted that the new system is going to be “subject to abuse at a later stage”, and he wants the Government to explain why it is necessary to implement it.

Speaking on the radio programme, Eustace also read from a document (dated April 25, 2016), issued by the Ministry of Education, that was sent to parents of eligible students, which explained the process by which they would apply for and receive the new ID cards.

“I never heard of it before. What is all the secrecy about? I am asking parents who have them to look at it very carefully to make sure there is no abuse of the system… The amount of fraud that is associated with ID cards and so on here, I don’t support this at all.”

In the March 18, 2016 edition of SEARCHLIGHT, it was reported that the MP-ID System was being implemented, and Minister of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Trade, Information and Labour Camillo Gonsalves said that the new system is not only expected to bring the region closer together, but will also make the lives of Vincentians easier.

“The number that you get… will follow you around as you work and live, and the data about you will grow… We decided to wait until the entire campaign process (general elections) was over so that we could begin rolling out, not a voter’s ID, but an identification card that every Vincentian can get – a unique number that each one of you will have for your entire life,” Gonsalves had said.

The Minister had also pointed out that possessing the new ID card would make working and travelling within the region easier, since citizens’ information would be more readily accessible.

MP-ID System is a World Bank funded initiative and has already been implemented in other OECS countries.

On February 11, 2015, the Cabinet granted approval for the Registry to be the executing agency for the implementation of this new system.

Cabinet also approved a task team – headed by Godfred Pompey, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security. The task team also comprises representatives from the following Ministries and Departments: Ministry of Health, Registry, Customs and Excise, the Licensing Department, the Accountant General, Electoral Division, Telecommunications Department, Ministry of Finance, National Insurance Services, Ministry of Mobilization, Ministry of Agriculture and the Attorney General.

The advantages of using this new system have been identified as: countries will be able to establish agreements to utilize each other’s databases to verify the authenticity of the identification of travellers; fulfils the agenda of both CARICOM and the OECS for the use of Information and Communication Technology, which is essential to the Economic Union’s competitiveness and socio-ecological sustainability; provides a fee-for-service for non-government entities to access a Web Portal to use the Vetting and Verification Services; and facilitates the protection of citizens’ identity and the reduction in identity fraud.

Other advantages are: it provides a cost-effective, incremental approach to integrating existing identity systems; provides a unique, interoperable, best practice means of identifying each OECS stakeholder; and enables seamless and accurate free movement of persons to work and live across the OECS Economic Union. (JSV)

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