Some Ghanaians have expressed frustrations over the delay in getting their Ghana cards issued after months of application. The government of Ghana is contributing $531 million of the total $1.2 billion cost, while Identity Management System (IMS), which is partnering the NIA under a public/private partnership (PPP) agreement, will provide $678 million for the exercise.
The issuance of a National Identification ID card is among the few key projects the government promised to execute to formalise the country’s economy. However, many Ghanaians have already expressed regret over the seeming delays in the issuance of the cards, after more than three previous deadlines set by the government to execute it, was not met.
The National Identification Authority (NIA) has now disclosed that government has outstanding arrears of approximately $80 million owed to the Authority for the production of Ghana Cards.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Authority, Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, government has not fully settled these outstanding payments.
According to reports, some partners of NIA, including Identity Management Systems, have withheld over 3.5 million cards due to government’s failure to clear its debts.
Although a payment of GH¢100 million by the Finance Minister led to the release of these cards, the accumulation of debt, including interest over the past six months is threatening the registration process.
According to Prof Attafuah, the debt had initially been around $90 million and had increased due to additional arrears, which were part of a government support agreement.
The introduction of the Ghana Card, issued by NIA, as a mandatory form of identification to be used in all transactions, and also a significant step towards improving governance and security in the country, but the recent revelation that government owes approximately $80 million to the NIA for the production of these cards has raised concerns about the sustainability of this crucial initiative.
The consequences of this unpaid debt are far-reaching and extend beyond the balance sheet of the NIA. It is imperative to recognise the ripple effects of the government’s failure to clear its arrears for the production of Ghana Cards.
It is disturbing to know that over 3.5 million Ghana Cards have been withheld due to the outstanding debts. This means that significant portions of the population are being denied access to essential services that require the Ghana Card for verification. These services include voter registration, passport application and access to social benefits.
Delaying the issuance of these cards not only undermines the government’s commitment to national security but also opens the door to potential identity theft and fraudulent activities. This situation could erode public trust in the government’s ability to protect citizens and their data.
The unpaid debt has serious economic repercussions. The NIA is a government agency that relies on its budget to operate efficiently. The outstanding debt creates financial instability for the NIA, potentially leading to a reduction in the quality and scope of its services. This can have a negative impact on the country’s overall economic development.
The Chronicle calls on the government to urgently address this issue by clearing its debt to the NIA. We believe that by so doing it will enable the NIA to resume the issuance of Ghana Cards promptly.
A fully functional Ghana Card system is essential for national security. Clearing the debt will help the NIA enhance its capabilities in this regard and ensure the safety of citizens. This way, the NIA will be better equipped to support the country’s development initiatives. It is crucial for the government to prioritise and expedite the payment of this debt.
Clearing the arrears is not only a fiscal responsibility but also a commitment to the well-being and progress of the nation and its citizens. Ghana cannot afford to let this situation linger any longer; it’s time for action and accountability.