The enrolment for the national identification programme, which was expected to commence later this year, has been rescheduled for next year, to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to successfully complete its mop-up exercise, and conduct the 2004 general election unhindered.
"It makes sense to wait," Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, a Deputy Minister of Information, who disclosed this in Accra yesterday said, adding that "the planning committee of the ID system thought it wise to reschedule the enrolment date to allow the EC to complete its crucial duty of conducting the elections."
He said,however,that all the necessary structures had been put in place to ensure that soon after the elections, the enrolment would take off.Mr Asamoah-Boateng said an administrative unit which was set up to, among other things,embark on an education campaign on the relevance of a national ID,had begun its sensitisation programme to encourage the people to actively participate in the exercise when it begins.
He said the various centres for the enrolment exercise had also been identified as part of the preparation for the take-off and noted that "this shows clearly that the planning, although far advanced, is on-going to ensure that there are no serious hitches that could mar the exercise."
The national identification system is expected to assist the government to know the actual population of the country, and how many people reside in a particular area, in order to aid planning.It will also facilitate the smooth implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), help in the equitable distribution of the national cake, as well as help identify the various age distributions of the people.
The Deputy Minister said equally important was the use of the ID to enhance the banking system in the country. He explained that the banking system was not as effective as expected since there was mistrust when it came to the release of credit to individuals and companies. Mr Asamoah-Boateng noted that when the ID was in place, the real identity of any person could be established and traced in the event of anyone defaulting on the payment of the credit received.
The national ID will also play an important role in crime prevention and crime combat and also help in the issuance of driving licence.The social security pensions scheme is also expected to be improved as more people would get on board the scheme.Asked about the specific companies which were likely to conduct the exercise, Mr Asamoah-Boateng declined comment but stated that the committee had been able to zoom-in on three companies, all of whom had been found to be competent enough to handle the exercise.
He said "the financial and technical proposals of those companies have been looked at and they seem good." He said while waiting to announce the company likely to win, the necessary preparations were still underway. Meanwhile, some ICT companies in the country have expressed interest in the exercise and have called on the government to get them actively involved in the process.
The companies, which pleaded anonymity, say it was important for them to be included because after the initial exercise was completed, it was still likely that the foreign companies would leave while they remained in the country to continue.They called for transparency in the selection of the winner to ensure that the exercise was successfully executed by a competent company for the country to have value for money.