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Legislators on both sides of the isle on Wednesday lambasted Government for monetizing the replacement of lost National Identity Cards (IDs), something they say is a huge cost to Ugandans.
Early this week, Kampala Central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko complained about the 50,000 shillings levy that’s being charged by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).
However, yesterday, the MPs were infuriated when State Minister for Internal Affairs Minister Mario Obiga Kania appeared to defend this charge saying it was necessary and legal.
In a statement he tabled on the floor of parliament, Kania told legislators that whereas the initial ID is free, reproducing another one is a cumbersome process which involves embedding crucial security features.
“The first national ID card is free, but replacement of a lost ID attracts the said fees as provided for in the law,” he explained.
“The current national ID is not a mere piece of plastic that can be printed anywhere but a document with embedded security features that meet international standards and is machine readable,” Kania added.
Second to that, he pointed out that under ection 64 of the Registration of Persons Act (ROPA), any transaction that takes place after six months must include update biometrics which is no mean thing.
This stirred a controversy with Ngora County’s Member of Parliament (MP) David Abala questioning the affordability and fairness considering widening poverty levels across the country.
“In 2011, eleven million Ugandans could not get 1,000 shillings at the end of the month. Since that time madam speaker they charge them 52,000 shillings for replacing an ID, where are they going to get this money?” Abala wondered.
Igara East’s Micheal Mawanda who claims to have challenged this arrangement when it was being incepted in 2012, said he warned government but the then State Minister for Internal Affairs Minister James Baba decided to pay a deaf ear.
Other MPs who included Alex Ruhunda of Fort Portal Municipality instead called for a forensic audit on NIRA to flush out corruption tendencies that they say has stagnated progress.
Commenting on the matter, Speaker Kadaga wondered why it is taking government a lot of tinkering to have an integrated system that could accelerate provision of National IDs in record time.