Members of the Senate have expressed their commitment to support the production of a National Biometric Identification System Cards (NBIS) for citizens in the country.
The lawmakers, who attended a two-day legislative retreat organized by the National Identification Registry (NIR) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, said the Act creating the Registry was passed into law and signed by the President since 2011.
As such, the Registry needs to double its efforts if it is to meet the target of producing citizen and resident identification cards by February 2017.
In separate statements made last weekend, Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County admonished the leadership of the Registry to make urgent use of the next two weeks to secure funding in the National Budget for the implementation of the project.
Senator Kaipay used the occasion to call on his colleagues to ensure that funds are allocated in the National Budget for the Implementation of the NBIS.
Sinoe County Senator Milton Teajay also called on the Registry to take all security measures to avoid duplications and exposures of the system to fraud.
Also speaking, Senator Steve Zargo of Lofa County and Chairman of the Senate committee on National Defense noted that the issue of National Identity is a concern to the entire world considering the global threat of terrorism.
He said the communication industry is facing a serious challenge in registering all of the GSM numbers in the country because of the lack of national citizen identification cards.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the NIR, J. Tiah Nagbe, told lawmakers that the Act creating the entity was signed in 2011, with an initial budgetary allocation of US$500,000 for the fiscal year 2015/16.
Mr. Nagbe said the intention for creating the NIR is to primarily design, establish, maintain and administer the NBIS. He then expressed his team’s preparedness to move on with the process.
“NBIS process will be a modern computerized database containing important information on all citizens and residents in Liberia. To do that, the entity needs about US$5 million for the implementation of the first phase of the project in 2017,” Mr. Nagbe said.
He said some of the services to benefit from the registry include elections; census and statistics; social security and welfare benefits payments; immigration; policing; crime scene investigation; banking; insurance; telecommunications as well as the use of education services; health services; issuance of identification for birth certificates, passports, driver’s license, etc.
Mr. Nagbe noted that building public trust in the system was one of the challenges that might hinder the process. He, however, assured that his team intends to build such trust by being transparent, accountable, and maintaining an open line of communication with the public.
He said the Registry has been divided into three to establish permanent infrastructure or data center, mass enrollment, and the construction of permanent enrollment centers across the country.