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New IDs to expose tax evaders

Thursday October 23 2014

Ms Mwende Gatabaki, the acting director-general

Ms Mwende Gatabaki, the acting director-general of Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Services. She said the main reason for the registration is to enable the country tackle national security challenges. FILE PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG NATION MEDIA GROUP

JOSHUA MASINDE
By JOSHUA MASINDE
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Kenyans will be registered afresh next year in a project that will cost Sh9 billion, a government agency has said.

The biometric registration, to be funded by the government and private sector, is part of a plan to boost revenue collection by mapping potential taxpayers. It is expected to curb rising cases of terrorism and crime by uprooting criminals and illegal foreigners.

According to Ms Mwende Gatabaki, the acting director-general of Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service, the main reason for the registration is to enable the country tackle national security challenges.

It will involve the listing of people of all ages, births and deaths that occur at any given time.

“The end result is that we are going to have a population register with every Kenyan and from that, we are going to issue digital identification cards that will have information about all citizens in the country,” said Ms Gatabaki.

The registration will start in February 2015, with the listing of foreigners set to start later, in April.

From October 2015, passports, national identification cards and logbooks will have biometric data of individuals, which the government can access electronically.

SCANNING OF EXISTING DOCUMENTS

The process will involve scanning of existing identification documents, facial scans and taking of finger prints. Children under 12 years will have their irises scanned.

The register will also capture land details, assets and registered companies, with a view of enlisting those within the tax bracket who are not paying duty.

The government has set aside Sh1 billion for the project, but anticipates that the private sector, under a public-private partnership, will finance the rest.

Some of the costs are to be recovered through data vending to key institutions, especially those in financial services. The registration, which is expected to be completed by June 2016, will also ease cashless payment for government services.

The National Digital Registry Service will be counting on a partnership with the Association of Credit Providers to aid with the identification and authentication of identities, especially for financial services across all sectors.

Central Bank of Kenya governor Njuguna Ndung’u noted that apart from its potential to mitigate risks in financial services arising from identity theft, the electronic register of persons will make it easy for financial institutions to appraise borrowers.

“A central repository of personal and corporate information will facilitate banks in their credit appraisal. This should not only ease access to credit but also reduce costs of credit, given the lower search costs,” said Prof Ndung’u.