ADDRESS BY HON. DR. KWABENA DUFFOUR MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC PLANNING ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY (NIA) BOARD ON MONDAY 29TH JUNE, 2009 AT 11:30AM Chairman of the Board of the National Identification Authority Distinguished representatives of Institutions, Executive Secretary of the NIA, Former Board Members of the NIA, Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of the Media, It is a pleasure for me this morning to inaugurate the Governing Board of the National Identification Authority on behalf of His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills. This is a historic occasion for two reasons. First, for the first time since its establishment in 2003, the National Identification Authority (NIA) will have a Governing Board replacing the Interim Advisory board. Second, this is the first time a fully constituted board is being officially inaugurated for this all-important institution that will, through the use of biometric identification technology, contribute to changing the way we do business in this country. The establishment of the National Identification System (NIS), which is the responsibility of the NIA, is part of Government’s response to national concerns about pervasive identity fraud, duplication of identity documents, inefficiencies in public service delivery and human development, the slow and unreliable pace of employment services provision, lack of accuracy in population census data, and credit information and revenue generation, among other concerns. The NIA was set up to meet very important national needs. Its mandate is to register all Ghanaians (at home and abroad), and foreign nationals permanently resident in Ghana, generate unique identifiers for them, issue national identity cards, promote the use of ID cards in Ghana, and verify and authenticate identity search requests from public and private sector institutions. A key goal of the NIS is to strengthen public confidence in the business environment by ensuring that transactions are efficient, secure, reliable and trustworthy. In addition to minimizing identity fraud and improving crime control, the NIS will contribute significantly to the transformation of our national economy and the improvement of good governance, democracy and the rule of law. The need for a national identification system has been recognized since 1972. Indeed, pursuant to The Citizens Identity Card Decree, NRC Decree 129 of 1972, the National Redemption Council regime of Col. I.K. Acheampong implemented an identification scheme in 1973 in five regions of the country –Upper, Northern, Volta, Brong-Ahafo and Western regions. In 1991, the PNDC government developed a technical proposal on the idea, and in May 2001, the National Economic Dialogue constituted by the New Patriotic Party Government recommended the establishment of a multi-sectoral technical committee to develop a new strategy and technical details for implementing a more comprehensive NIS for Ghana. The NIA was subsequently set up in 2003 to implement the scheme, and the National Identification Authority Act (Act 707) was subsequently passed in 2006. The establishment of the NIS has enjoyed multi-party support since its inception. When the Bill for the establishment of the NIA was introduced in Parliament, it received strong bi-partisan support, with the NDC, then in opposition, putting its weight behind it. It is with the same commitment that the NDC Government, just shortly after assuming office, released over four million Ghana cedis to the NIA for the payment of overdue allowances to staff and for the commencement of mass registration exercise in the Volta Region. The NIA has made a lot of progress since its establishment: Construction of the National Data Centre and NIA Headquarters is 97% complete. Installation of equipment for data processing and card printing is almost complete. Massive public education campaign was undertaken in 2006 to raise public awareness of the NIS and to enlist broad public support for it. The mass registration exercise which started on 1st July 2008 has been successfully concluded in Central, Western, Eastern and Volta Regions. The Authority is yet to commence mass registration in the remaining six regions of the country –Greater Accra, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East and Upper West. It is also yet to decentralize aspects of its operations by establishing permanent Regional and District offices throughout the country to provide its services to the people on a regular basis. It must also ensure the integrity of its data base and, within the confines of the law, protect the privacy of the individual. I have followed with great interest the development of the National Identification System since its inception in 2003, and I am pleased to have the opportunity, in concert with the Governing Board and management, to oversee its implementation. Government is fully committed to the successful implementation of the National Identification System. His Excellency President J. E. A. Mills is anxious to see the roll-out and use of the ID cards throughout the country. It is against this background that the President has nominated you as members of the Governing Board, confident that you will provide the NIA with sound and effective policy direction for the successful implementation of its mandate. It is the ardent hope of the President that you will help to make Ghana’s national identification system one of the very best in the world. I must, therefore, implore you to be diligent, committed and loyal in performing your duties as members of the Governing Board. There are, indeed, a number of pressing issues awaiting your most urgent attention, and it is my hope that you will be able to rise to these and other challenges awaiting you. Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of His Excellency the President, I thank you most sincerely for accepting the nomination to serve on this important Board, and I congratulate you on your appointment. I now officially declare, on behalf of the President, the National Identification Authority Board duly constituted. Thank you all for your kind attention.