National

Foreigners to get IDs in January

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By YASIIN MUGERWA

Posted  Tuesday, October 30  2012 at  02:00
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The government is considering issuing specialised cards and identification numbers to aliens in the country even as it emerged that Ugandan citizens will have to wait a little longer before getting national identity cards.

The Internal Affairs’ Permanent Secretary, Dr Stephen Kagoda, told lawmakers on the Public Accounts Committee that aliens’ identification cards will be ready by January and that the new move was intended to help the government check on proliferation of illegal immigrants in the country. Asked why the government had decided to consider foreigners before nationals, Dr Kagoda said: “the data for aliens is already captured in the ministry’s system.”

Mr Kagoda also said other than embarking on the botched National ID project, the government found it practical to start with foreigners’ IDs, which are also provided for under the citizenship and immigration regulations.

However, legislators expressed concern over the absence of an immigration policy and the porous borders that have made Uganda a safe haven for illegal immigrants. “How are we going to issue IDs to foreigners when we don’t even know their number?” Rwampara MP Vincent Kyamadidi asked.

Mr Paul Mwiru, the vice chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee said: “There are people in Internal Affairs Ministry who connive with illegal immigrants to give them work permits. They call themselves investors yet they don’t have any capital and these are people who are going to get these IDs and work permits.”

Dr Kagoda said the government would deport illegal immigrants and issuance of aliens IDs would be based on successful application for work permits. He was also tasked to explain why the National ID project had stalled amid corruption scandals.

“I signed the contract based on authorisation. When a matter is discussed by the top authority in government with the blessing of the chief advisor to government and PPDA, what do you expect me to have done?” He said.

Although the committee on Defence and Internal Affairs had recommended that Dr Kagoda be relieved of his duties because of his alleged involvement in the ID procurement mess, PAC members allowed him to conduct business without any hitch.

The committee heard that after spending more than Shs200billion on 409 IDs out of more than 32 million IDs required, officials in the Ministry of Internal Affairs were now demanding another Shs110 billion to revive the project.

In the budget for this financial year, the Ministry of Finance only provided Shs25 billion, meaning the project will not take off any time soon. Dr Kagoda said the ministry had promised to release Shs85 billion but the money was not provided.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com