Licence, ID And NIS Cards To Be Combined

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Prime Minister David Thompson (FP)????

A single, multi-purpose, high security card containing a micro-chip, has been proposed as an alternative to having a driver’s licence and identification and national insurance cards.

This was disclosed today by Prime Minister David Thompson, as he delivered the feature address at the opening of the fourth general meeting of the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Mr. Thompson explained that presently, persons working in Barbados and licensed to drive, had to carry at least three different cards, containing similar biographical information. He noted that the information was entered, stored and accessed using different methods of database management.

"This smart card would carry biographical and biometric information which could easily be verified on-line. It would combine the three existing cards and have the financial capacity to function as a debit card to facilitate payment of National Insurance pensions and benefits. It could also function as an electronic purse for users of the services of the Transport Board," he revealed.

The Prime Minister further indicated that to facilitate the operation of the smart card, it was proposed that a central database be established at the Electoral Department. He warned, however, that the implementation of the proposal would pose several challenges.

"It will require new and revised legislation; several pieces of hardware and software; changes in the information technology and network infrastructures; additions to the human and physical resources; and a carefully drawn up and costed implementation plan," Mr. Thompson outlined.??????

He pointed out that preliminary cost-benefit analyses had been carried out, and stressed that they had all shown that the implementation of the proposal would bring "considerable direct and indirect savings that far outstrip the costs".

With respect to the existing cards, the Prime Minister said that the Barbados identification card had been in use since 1979, and given the ease with which it was produced, there had been cases of photograph substitution and other attempts to fraudulently produce the card.????

"This near obsolete ID card which needs to be replaced regularly, is not machine-readable. Since there is no online verification of the biographical data, it must be taken at face value.

"The mind boggles at the extent of not only fraud, but also time-wasting and frustration that this state of affairs is causing Barbadians," he lamented.

Mr. Thompson also mentioned the problem of duplication of effort and inefficient use of resources, with the issuance of cards by the National Insurance Department to those registered to work in Barbados, and the driver’s licence card which must be replaced every one, three or five years, when the licence fee becomes payable.

gapplewhaite@barbados.gov.bb

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