Earlier this afternoon, I saw these two tweets by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and went to their website to get further information.
The release there, posted on August 13, 2022, is as follows:
NIDS Regulations Being Finalised for Public Feedback
The new National Identification System (NIDS) Regulations are being finalised for public discussion, says Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Floyd Green.
“We would love to have our regulations published [for] public feedback sometime next week [August 15-19], and we hope to be able to conclude that process by the end of August,” he said.
The Minister advised that the regulations will be tabled after the House of Representatives resumes sittings in September.
He provided the details while touring the first enrolment centre for the NIDS pilot programme at the Central Sorting Office on South Camp Road in Kingston on Thursday (August 11).
Mr. Green said a series of test runs will be conducted at the facility, development of which is slated for completion in two weeks.
“We [want] our timelines [to be accurate]. We want to ensure that when we tell people it will take them [a certain] time to come in, go through the process and collect the [NIDS] card, we are able to deliver,” he said.
Minister Green also advised that Cabinet has approved the structure of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).
“Now we’re looking to populate a board. We’ve already gone through a very significant vetting process and have hired a number of people, including our card production manager; so, we’re almost ready to go,” he said.
NIDS is intended to provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the collection and storage of identity information.JIS release, posted on website August 13, 2022
Minister Green is quoted as saying “We would love to have our regulations published [for] public feedback sometime next week [August 15-19], and we hope to be able to conclude that process by the end of August”.
This means the Minister anticipates a two-week period – give or take a few days – for public feedback on the draft regulations governing the implementation and operation of Jamaica’s new National Identification System. That the government can consider two weeks as sufficient time for such feedback signals that they are not serious about a genuine process of public consultation and feedback at all.
Anyone who has worked on regulations that accompany legislation knows that they are often very detailed. It is not uncommon to hear during discussions about new laws, at Joint Select Committee deliberations for example, that some aspect of how the law functions will be dealt with in the regulations. And as the saying goes, the devil is often in the details. The details can be problematic and sufficient time needs to be allowed for members of the public to review and give feedback.
In a two-week period, the government expects interested members of the public – as individuals or organizations – to download the new draft regulations, to read and analyse them, to do any research or have any discussions, to draft written feedback and submit it. Seriously?
And what time will be taken to consider such feedback and make any adjustments to those draft regulations?…When it is intended to table the regulations “after the House of Representatives resumes sittings in September” (JIS release above) and to have “five [pilot enrolment] sites that will be activated across Kingston and St. Andrew by early October.” (JIS release posted August 12, 2022, “First NIDS Registration Centre Opening Soon”.)
In radio interviews back at the end of May 2022, Minister Green said that 4 weeks would be allowed for public feedback, and at the time I queried whether 4 weeks was sufficient, given what would be involved in giving such feedback.
So here we are, two and a half months later, being told that the public will have not 4 weeks but 2 weeks to give feedback.
No, if this is its current timeline, the govenment isn’t serious about this process of public consultation and feedback. That much is clear.