Govt Drops Charges For Mass Renewal Of National IDs

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Citizens will be spared from paying Shs50,000 to renew their National Identity Cards (IDs) save for those interested in express service, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been assured.

The assurance was made by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi in a statement to the House on the process of preparation for mass renewal of national identity cards.

During plenary on Tuesday, 13 February 2024, MPs expressed their discontent with the delayed process of renewing IDs and issuance of new ones and called on government to expeditiously release funds to effect the process.

MPs were further perturbed when it came to light that despite Shs300 billion appropriated for the same cause, no money has been released to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, putting on halt activities such as recruitment of workers to man the exercise and the delayed procurement.

“This is the process where we extract the register for elections, which should be ready by January 2025.  You need to renew over 15.2 million IDs and enroll 17 million new IDs by June this year, you need to move fast such that we do not get into a national crisis,” said Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa.

Tayebwa was bothered that the ministry has halted the recruitment of workers to run the exercise and tasked the ministry to commence the recruitment as they wait on funds to beat the deadline.

“You cannot wait for the money to reach your account, you can start on the process of recruitment, then when money comes you just issue recruitment letters,” Tayebwa said.

Hon. Esther Mbayo, the Luuka District Woman Representative, making her contribution to the ID debate.

In May 2022, the Deputy Speaker had warned the same minister not to make the national ID card exercise a revenue generating avenue because they have become a necessary requirement for one to attain any social and economic service.

Kwania County MP, Hon. Tonny Ayoo, expressed concern over the long process citizens go through during the renewal of IDs, suggesting that the National, Identification, and Registration Authority (NIRA) should learn from the systems deployed in the renewal of driving licenses.

“NIRA has been operating on very dilapidated computers, systems, and perhaps applications, that is why they are providing for express IDs, why can’t they borrow from the process of issuance and renewal of driving licences?” asked Ayoo.

Ayoo asked Parliament to mount pressure on the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development to urgently release Shs192 billion allocated for the exercise in this quarter.

Hon. David Mugole (NRM, Kabweri County) warned against late recruitment witnessed in the previous enrolment, which he said was the cause for errors especially in age that made many elderly people lose out on their special grant.

“You could find that the date of birth on the registration form is different from the one on the national ID. For example, they put a wrong date on my father’s ID, although he was 90 years he missed out on the Social Assistance Grant Empowerment,” said Mugole.

He asked whether the forthcoming mass renewal will provide the opportunity for correcting errors.

Legislators asked NIRA to consider categories of people who have been denied national IDs due to disabilities and race.

The representative for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Hon. Joyce Acan, said the PWDs without fingers were denied IDS since fingerprints were required during the biometric data capture.

Kabula County MP, Hon. Enos Asiimwe, said there were Ugandan nationals of Rwandan origin, who are often disturbed when seeking national IDs and asked government to clarify such cases.

A similar scenario was raised by Kiryandongo District Woman MP, Hon. Helen Kahunde, about an indigenous community known as the Maragoli in Kiryandongo District who are not yet recognised in the constitution.

“They missed out on the last enrolment, government has been promising them to establish a constitutional review commission, for them to be included in the constitution as citizens. They are worried that they will miss again,” said Kahunde.

Katikamu County South MP, Hon. Hassan Kirumira, also contributed to the debate on the national ID renewal

Minister Muhoozi, reiterated that despite the delays, the ministry has kick-started procurement process for ICT equipment, and training of ministry staff in the new National Security Information System is ongoing in India.

“Following the approval of funding, the new National Security Information System-related procurements have also commenced with requests for approval by the National Information Technology Authority – Uganda obtained,” Muhoozi said in his statement.

Muhoozi articulated the plan for hard-to-reach districts, saying standby generators and solar panels will be provided to counter power blackouts.

“Approximately 2,750 kits with solar panels, will be available in addition to each district having a 5KV generator for the exercise. Each kit will have two connectivity devices and connectivity mapping is ongoing for each parish countrywide,” he said.

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