THE FINANCIAL crunch that has hit key state institutions in the country seems to be rearing its ugly head at the National Identification Authority (NIA), as managers of the bio-data of Ghanaians are faced with dire operational challenges to undertake an upcoming exercise to issue instant smartcards to local nationals, next month.
Aside the myriad of difficulties bedeviling the NIA, which began under former President John Kufuor’s administration, the institution set up with millions of tax payer’s money to bank the national database, is also struggling to avoid collapse.
Investigations conducted by the DAILY HERITAGE reveal that the government has so far spent GH¢600m on state institutions such as the Electoral Commission (EC), National Health Insurance Authority( NHIA) and Driver and Vehicular Licensing Authority’s (DVLA) biometric registration exercises to capture the bio-data of potential voters and applicants.
The Electoral Commission, in 2011, received over GH¢50.8 million for the biometric exercise for the 2012 electoral process, while the DVLA and NHIA have been given similar huge monies for similar jobs.
This comes on the heels that the National Identification Authority needed GH¢45m to complete a national database where strategic institutions such as the EC, NHIA, DVLA and recently, Social Security and National Insurance Trust among others can tap into without wastage of state resources.
Checks by the paper at the NIA headquarters reveal that a third floor which was made available to state institutions such as the EC, Ghana Immigration Service, NHIA, DVLA, and Births and Deaths is still vacant because the bodies have refused to occupy it and tap into the national database.
“As it stands now, the NIA has been in a financial mess. The institutions could have been on the block and within a minute, could crosscheck people’s bio-data but, the floor is empty,” the source lamented.
“There is a security threat out there which the National Identification Authority could have helped curb.”
“As it stands now, people can walk with different identification cards and commit crime everywhere without being detected because there is no national database,” they opined.
Snippets of information gathered by the paper indicated that the NIA at its recent mass registration exercise in the Northern region and other parts of the country had to look for its own money to carry out the exercise.
“While foreigners pay GH¢120.00 for the cards, Ghanaians acquire it for free and where does that money come from?” they quizzed.
The DAILY HERITAGE learnt that the National Identification Authority after the mass registration exercise was forced to bear a huge loss from the cards they produced.