Tue | Nov 21, 2017

OPM admits there could have been more public education on NIDS

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Reggae artiste Queen Ifrica (left) pays keen attention from the gallery as senators debated the National Identification System on Monday. Another member of the public also gives a listening ear.
Concerned Jamaican citizens took up position outside Gordon House last Friday. They have issues with the National Identification System, which the senators had been debating on the inside. The bill was, however, passed yesterday.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Linval Phoenix addressing a group of concerned Jamaicans outside Gordon House prior to the meeting of the Senate last Friday.
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Robert Nesta Morgan, the director of communication in the Office of the Prime Minister, yesterday conceded that there could have been greater consultation on the contentious National Identification System (NIDS) bill that was passed in the Upper House on Monday night.

Morgan, at a press conference at Jamaica House yesterday, asserted, however, that there was public education before the bill's passage.

"We will confess that there was public education before this bill came to Parliament. But we can argue whether it was enough. We said from the beginning that there is a national public education campaign that is to be rolled out that started on Monday at 1 p.m. The difficulty with having public education before you have a law is that you may be educating people about something that does not exist," argued Morgan.

Morgan said that there was initial consultation with selected sector agencies, including banks and churches.

However, several groups have suggested that there was no consultation with them prior to the bill coming to Parliament, while the Opposition has maintained that the bill would have been better had it faced the rigour of a joint select committee of both Houses. Such a committee would have the power to solicit feedback from agencies whose position could impact the legislation, such as the Jamaican Bar Association, and human-rights organisations.

Morgan said it could always be argued that there was need for more given much of the misinformation that has been presented.

With the passage of the legislation, he said a series of community meetings, starting next Thursday at Emancipation Park, will begin the public education programme.

A framework will be created to update the nation on the steps being taken on the implementation of the programme, he said.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com