Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit, has announced that funds amounting to E.C. $1.6-million have been allocated and approved for the Electoral Office for the design and development of a biometric ID management system to provide for National ID cards.
Speaking at a Town Hall meeting at the Baracoon building in Roseau on Thursday evening, Skerrit said that the monies have been made available as a “step towards ensuring that everybody could have an ID” by the time of the next general election comes around.
Skerrit also pointed ‘scaremongering’ by the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) about economic citizens coming to Dominica to vote saying the laws are very clear and there are criteria that must be met before any voting is done.
“There is a qualification process for anybody to register to vote in Dominica. You have to live in Dominica for a period of time, and they are giving people the impression that the people who are resident elsewhere, all elections, they will just come and vote in Dominica…this cannot happen,” he said.
He stated that these actions are just an attempt to “mislead our people,” and get them to have a different view of the government and its efforts.
This is not the first time the government has promised National ID Cards for Dominicans.
Speaking on Kairi’s Heng Program in 2011, Skerrit said the government was aiming to have National ID Cards ready for use in the next general election, which was constitutionally due in 2015.
At a Dominica Labour Party rally on March 12, 2013, then Health Minister, Julius Timothy, revealed that 100,000 national ID cards could be made available to Dominicans by the end of 2013.
He said Cabinet had given the commitment to provide US$96,000 for the issuance of the first 100,000 cards.
This was in addition to a US$3.14 million contract awarded to 3M Innovative Properties to provide multipurpose ID cards to Dominicans.
“Based on the project plan, the Electoral Commission will begin to issue identification cards before the end of this year. So our National ID Cards will be ready and issued,” Timothy said back then.
But figures back then (in 2013) from the Electoral Office showed that the number of those enrolled for the cards was a far cry from the 100,000 mentioned by Timothy.
According to the figures, just 3,900 were enrolled for the cards back then and the Electoral Office made it clear that the cards would not be available for the 2015 General Election.