Parliament calls for adequate funding for National Identification Authority

Parliament on Friday urged the shoring up of the National Identification Authority (NIA) to accomplish its mandate to improve national security, public safety, economic development and social cohesion.

The Parliamentarians contended that if the NIA was adequately resourced, its work would have been completed by 2009 and other user agencies mandated by law to access information in the national database, would not have gone into data collection activities, leading to high incidences of duplication of data and waste of national resources.

They were contributing to a statement made on the floor of the House by Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manyhia, urging the Legislature to push for the requisite funding for the NIA to achieve its mandate.

He called on the Government to view the NIA’s work as a major issue, particularly, with Election 2012 approaching.

Dr Prempeh, in his statement, said it was imperative that Parliament took a “more serious” look at the NIA, with a view to making it fulfil its mandate defined in the law, considering its relevance to Ghana’s political, social, security and economic stability.

He noted that the inability of the NIA to complete its data collection for the national database, because of lack of funding, led to the duplication of data by other institutions, with the fear that such data collection activities could not be synchronised with the national database.

“Without a functioning national database, smaller data bases cannot cross reference their data….” he stated. “We even hear the Authority does not even have resources to distribute identity cards that it has struggled to print. This is not acceptable.”

“Supporting the NIA is now a national Imperative. Parliament must take a serious look at this important national institution and help it fulfil its mandate as stipulated.”

Dr Prempeh called on Parliament to summon the NIA to appear before its Special Budget Committee to present a road map and budget that would enable it to complete registration of all Ghanaians and foreigners in addition to the issuing and distributing of identity cards.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, MP for Suame and Minority Leader, traced problems of the NIA to the budget allocated to it and approved by Parliament.

He said if the Electoral Commission needed 80 million dollars for a Biometric Voter Register only of people who were only 18 years and older, then the NIA, which was also allotted 80 million dollars for the exercise should have been given double that amount to effectively compile the national database.

The Suame MP said if the country had its acts right, the voter registration exercise would have been made simpler with the national identification card, saying, “It may appear we are deliberately starving the NIA of funds…And we must address this.”

He said if the national identity registration was completed, user institutions could tap into the database and generally help in the security of the nation, adding, “There is the need to improve the NIA and I hope the budget to be read would provide the necessary resource for the NIA.”

Mr Isaac Osei, MP for Subin, said it is imperative that the workings of the institution should be at the top of the country’s agenda because, “We need to protect key areas of our national life”.

He said the NIA should be resourced adequately to provide a credible national database which should form the basis for any kind of biometric registration in the country.

Mr David Tetteh Assumeng, MP for Shai Osudoku, noted that nations had become successful because relevant data that had improved their ability to manage resources effectively and efficiently.

He  called for a critical appraisal of the NIA to address the challenges facing it for the institution  to contribute to national development.

Papa Owusu Ankomah, MP for Sekondi, urged the Government to see the NIA as a major issue, particularly as Election 2012 approached, saying, “Let us put our money where we have ultimate interest in.”

He said a well resourced NIA would be placed in a better stead to support other user agencies like the National Health Insurance Authority, the Passport Office, Electoral Commission, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, National Security and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust with accurate spot-on data, which would aid development.

Establishment of the National Identification Authority (NIA) by the Government was to create a national data to help implement a National Identification System.

In addition, the NIA would serve as a national register to collect and provide accurate and comprehensive information on the population to facilitate and support the country’s social, economic and political development.

However, severe financial contraint  is hampering the speedy processing of the biometric data necessary for economic planning.

Source: GNA

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