Monday May 13 2013

Ugandans to pay for IDs

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Kampala

Any Ugandan seeking to possess a national identity card will have to pay for it if a new proposal is approved by Parliament.

The Daily Monitor has learnt that the idea to sell national ID cards was mooted by the Presidential Committee on the Budget as part of the government’s “radical” efforts to widen its revenue base in the next financial year.

“People who want IDs should pay for them,” said a senior government official, who was part of the discussion but is not authorised to speak to the media. “The move will help government raise more money through non-tax revenue,” he added.

In March 2010, the government contracted a German firm to supply technology for the National Security Information System which would involve printing of national ID cards at Shs230b.
But the project, which was being implemented by the Internal Affairs ministry, stalled last year, reportedly due to lack of finances.

The Nebbi Woman MP, Ms Christine Acayo, who sits on the Budget Committee, yesterday told the Daily Monitor: “We don’t condone the Shs300b that got lost in this project, but Ugandans are tired of waiting for the national IDs. Those who can afford should pay but for the peasants who can’t afford, the government should come in and give them free IDs.”

Mr Simon Mulongo, the vice chairperson of the Defence committee, told MPs last week that an additional Shs111 billion was needed to revive the project. If approved, the entire project would cost close to Shs400b.

Whereas it is not clear how much each ID card will cost, sources close to the project said they could go for anywhere between Shs30,000 to Shs70,000. The final cost is expected to be announced by Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka when she reads the new Budget next month.

Idea opposed
The idea of selling national ID cards, however, has rubbed some legislators the wrong way.
“It’s a scandal for anybody to sell IDs to Ugandans when we passed a law that mandates government to issue free IDs,” said Terego MP Kassiano Wadri.

“If they wanted to run the project as a business why did they ask for Shs300b? They have not even accounted for a single cent and they are busy asking for more. We are not going to allow them to defraud taxpayers.”
Internal Affairs ministry permanent secretary Stephen Kagoda yesterday declined to comment and referred this newspaper to the director Citizenship and Immigration Control, Mr Godfrey Sasaga, who was too busy to respond.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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