Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Budget crisis puts national ID project in limbo danger

By Louis Kolumbia
The Citizen Correspondent
Dar es Salaam.
A looming budget crisis threatens to derail the national identification project that is vital for the socio-economic growth of the country. Identity cards would enable banks to trace loan defaulters and will also help the Police fight crime more easily as well as boost national security.
Reports say because of inadequate resources, the National Identification Authority (NIDA) would not be able to meet some or all of its deadlines because of lack of working tools and a shortage of staff.The issuing of IDs started early this year with civil servants and members of security forces.
The current inadequacy is due to insufficient budgetary allocations as well as the decision by the government to reduce the time it would take to complete the exercise countrywide from three years to one and a half years. NIDA principal informa   tion officer Rose Mdami, said the Authority’s officials have initiated negotiations with the government and other stakeholders on how the looming crisis would be avoided.
She could not say how much more NIDA wanted from the government to be able to complete the exercise only noting that the Authority would issue a statement to the media when the negotiations were concluded.
According to Ms Mdami, NIDA has experienced new demands that require more investment in the areas of technology, human resource development and smooth running of administrative matters after the project duration was compressed to meet other stakeholders’ demand.
Earlier, the project was planned to be implemented in a period of three years, but demands from project stakeholders required it be completed within a year and half.
Stakeholders working in collaboration with NIDA, whose responsibilities solely depended on the completion of the project, included the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) that was charged with implementing the post code project and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) that undertook development of the voter’s registration book.
Ms Mdami said yesterday that changes on the timeframe was made to enable stakeholders to implement the projects they were undertaking.
“National IDs are instrumental amenities to the referendum, the local government elections to be organised by NEC in 2014 and the General Election scheduled for the year 2015,” she said.
“These changes have created new demands in the area of technology whereby finger printing machines, photographing facilities, manpower and other funds for running administrative matters needed to be increased to comply with such adjustments,” Ms Mdami added.
She said discussions that were undertaken by NIDA aimed at seeking more funds for purchasing working facilities, a move that would accelerate their job and therefore meet the deadlines of supplying the IDs by 2014.
“Discussions are in progress….. NIDA will organise detailed information on the achievements reached. The public will be informed on schedule changes if it is decided so but our target remains the same which is issuing IDs by 2014,” said the former Radio Tumaini broadcaster.
The issue of inadequate funds came to the limelight during Parliament’s budgetary session in August when MPs questioned why the Home Affairs ministry had allocated measly resources to such an important project.
Tabling the budget, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, the minister for Home Affairs asked Parliament to approve Sh555.5 billion as the budget for the docket for 2012/13. However, only Sh15 billion would be directed to development activities in the whole ministry, including those for the national ID project. The rest, Sh540 billion, was set aside for recurrent expenditure.
The development projects to be implemented by the Sh15 billion included the purchase of vehicles which would be used by the National Identification Authority (NIDA), expanding the Authority’s headquarters and establishing its offices in 40 districts.
He added that the money would also be used to purchase modern equipment for the fire and rescue department as well as the police force. The money would also be used in building houses for police officers and prison wardens as well as building dormitories for inmates.
Currently NIDA is verifying information provided by Dar es Salaam residents during the registration process. Those with doubtful immigration backgrounds are likely to miss out on the IDs.  The project has also started in Zanzibar.
NIDA conducted a pilot programme in Kilosa District in Morogoro Region early in June, this year. The exercise helped the agency to discover and address the remaining challenges in the process.

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