He informed the gathering of his plan to involve all stakeholders in the exercise noting that public involvement will make the document, public-owned, and the exercise a community or locally-owned. He emphasized his belief in decentralization of functions and therefore assured the participants that he will ensure that the exercise reaches the farthest villages in the country.
The Minister said he will use his experience in the fight against Ebola to conduct the exercise, recalling the use of Paramount Chiefs and their sub chiefs, Councilors and Ward Committee members. He said he and his team at the national and district levels would only be providing strategic oversight and direction of the exercise.
He called on the participants to take the message of the pending civil registration exercise to their communities in order to ensure massive public turnout when the exercise kicks off in September this year.
Minister Conteh explained that the entire process is free of cost and that the ensuing ID Card is also free of cost. “This is all aimed at encouraging public cooperation and participation and to avoid claims of not having the ID card because of the cost,” Paolo Conteh stated, adding that the exercise is for government to know the actual number of people in the country for it to be able to disaggregate its development obligations.
Minister Palo Conteh opined that the exercise will also prevent civil servants for instance from backdating their dates of birth in order to keep them longer in public offices. “With a centralized national database system, manipulation of dates of birth and other vital data would no longer be accepted,” He assured.
Foday Kamara, Chief Registrar at the National Registration Secretariat (NRS) informed participants of the preparation of a Bill to the effect and pointing out that the Bill will harmonize institutions and functions into a single entity responsible for the registration and storage and management of public information into one database.
He explained that a National Identification Number (NIN) will be issued to every registered person that will be designated to that individual till death. He said children from 0 to 5years will be issued compulsory birth certificates, children from 6 to 16 years will be issued with smart cards without chips whilst 16years and above will be issued free multipurpose ID cards with chips.
Michaela Mackay, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Corporate Affairs Commission maintained that the civil registration and the issuance of free National Identification Card, is very important to her Commission. She therefore pledged to engage the House of Parliament for the amendment of the Corporate Commission Act to make provision for compulsory ID when transacting business with the Commission.