Sun | May 26, 2019

Scrap NIDS and improve TRN

Published:Monday | November 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I respond to Paul Haye's article 'Stop fighting against NIDS'. While there is some value to having an improved system of national identity for controls and security, these systems must work effectively with other systems to be effective.

The National Identification System (NIDS) alone won't stop crime or expedite the arrest of criminals. Effective policing does that. The concerns raised about NIDS are legitimate. Former JDF Colonel Allan Douglas was explicit in his recent column 'NIDS crosses red line'. I could also add that the cost of NIDS is astronomical and is to be funded from a multibillion-dollar loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jamaica cannot afford this massive debt! If we must borrow, why not focus on improving critical areas such as health and social services and education as a priority? The harsh penalty of J$100,000 and denial of essential services, should one resist or refuse to accept NIDS, is also extreme and dangerous in a free and democratic society.


Data Issues


The mandatory biometric data requirement is another issue. I would prefer if the collection of biometric data was focused on criminals, when arrested, and suspects (when there is evidence) to monitor and prevent the recurrence of crimes. Most Jamaicans aren't criminals.

I've argued that the Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN) system could be improved as a simpler alternative to NIDS, achieving the same results at a fraction of the cost.

Most Jamaicans already have a TRN. We've heard of persons having duplicate TRNs, but this should not be difficult to flag and fix. The system can be enhanced and secured.