Prime Minister Andrew Holness has chastised persons who are said to be spreading nonsensical and untruthful information about the National Identification System (NIDS), questioning whether their intentions are to destroy the country.
According to Holness, NIDS will improve the ease of doing business, while further advancing Jamaica’s quest to become a digital society.
However, several persons on social media have described the NIDS card and its pending identification number as elements which are ‘the Mark of the Beast’ which will give the Government total control of persons.
While speaking at Friday’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with deposit-taking institutions to participate in the NIDS pilot phase, Holness rubbished such arguments and appealed to persons to give Jamaica’s first national identification system a chance.
“Those people whose vested interest is to never see this happen, please give it a chance. Stop spreading the false rumours and confusing our Jamaican people and keeping us behind,” pleaded Holness.
“It’s the most frustrating thing to go on social media and see some of the nonsense that is being circulated, and people following it.
“You wonder who are these people. They realise what they are doing and how they are destroying the country?” he questioned.
Amid the naysayers and criticisms, the prime minister assured that the Government will not be daunted in its efforts to establish NIDS.
He said eventually all Government payments, including social support to the island’s most vulnerable persons during times of crisis, will be done digitally through the support of the identification system.
“We’re moving ahead in parallel with the system of digital transfer through the digital Central Bank currency, so that eventually all our payments – all our social support payments, our PATH payments, and so forth, and eventually salaries from the public sector – will be going through our digital system,” Holness stated.
Meanwhile, he said the absence of proper identification remains a significant barrier for thousands of Jamaicans, noting that $300 million in assistance provided by the Government through the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme remains uncollected, due to inability to verify the identities of persons.
He encouraged members of the banking fraternity to engage their customers about the benefits of digitisation and the transformations taking place in their organisations.
“Ensure that the promise of digitisation results in reduced banking costs to the average citizen,” he further urged.
The first NIDS pilot enrolment site is scheduled to be established in Kingston and St Andrew by August 2022, with others to be set up in all parishes over time.