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Parliament debates the National Digital Identification Bill

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 15 JUNE 2023: All Samoans will have digital IDs in the future if the National Digital Identification Bill 2023 now before parliament becomes law.

The Bill was tabled yesterday afternoon by the Minister for the Bureau of Statistics, Leota Laki Sio.

In his clarification of the bills objectives, Leota said the need for a National Digital ID will not only confirm a person, but helps identify them when it comes to opportunities for social development assistance.

The Bill was a collective effort by the Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Communications, Information & Technology (MCIT) with funding of US$5million from the World Bank’s IDA.

Leota said one of the important aspects about the Bill was the length of time given for public consultation and awareness programs with the public, the private sector and the villages and districts from 2021-2022.

Two Members of Parliament spoke on the Bill before Parliament rose at 1.00pm yesterday.

MP for Falelatai & Samatau, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano pointed to what he said was a concern raised by several religious people – whether the National ID is linked to the One World Government. Tologata said the peoples concern is based on the security of Samoan people from other international organisations.

MP for Vaimauga 1, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa supported the Bill saying the National ID should have been done a long time ago so that a person can be easily identified when he/she goes to the hospital, to the NPF and other financial institutions.

He said some people have more than three names now especially matai titles that can make it difficult to identify a person if they use all names at different times.

One example he used is the issuing of two passports to the same person but on different names.

He also questioned how secure the system would be so that the person’s information is not compromised.

He used social media as an example where a person used another person’s picture and information as his own and is able to access other private information.

Parliament continues tomorrow and more MPs are expected to speak on the Bill which is being put through to be passed under emergency status.

Before the 2021 general elections, the previous Government through the Bureau of Statistics, paid $50 per person to be registered under the National ID project.

However there was no legal basis hence the need for the Bill now before parliament which is expected to be passed during this session.