The government Wednesday dismissed a statement by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) that described as “reckless in the extreme” the signing of an agreement to operationalize e-governance without the framework legislation covering Data Protection in place.
In a statement, the GHRA said that given the haste, absence of public consultation, and threats to the integrity of personal information, not to mention the seeming illegality of sole-sourcing the project, it is calling for the project to be paused and submitted to Parliament.
The GHRA said Guyana is unique in the Caribbean in having no electronic transactions legislation to displace time-consuming and stressful paper-based procedures, such as registering births and deaths, creating a bank account, or registering a company.
It said moving data across borders for processing off-shore is the essence of a multi-national business.
“This does not sit easily with Guyana’s love affair with pieces of paper accompanying every conceivable business transaction. For all of these reasons, Guyana needs to transition to an e-world, but to do so with circumspection,” the GHRA said.
It said the “most prudent course of action would be for Guyana to engage with CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to ensure that this new project harmonizes with and benefits from the Parliamentary experience of CARICOM States such as Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica.”
But in a statement, the Ministry of Finance said it had taken note of “certain statements” made by the GHRA on the matter of the recently concluded contract for the development of an integrated electronic national identification card.
“The statements made by the GHRA have no basis whatsoever and are further undermined by having been made by an entity devoid of any credibility and legitimacy whatsoever.
“Contrary to the false assertion made by the GHRA, the contract in question was awarded in full conformity with the Laws of Guyana, including the procurement laws. Additionally, the company developing the solution for Guyana is a highly regarded supplier of items of this nature internationally,” the ministry said.
The government described the GHRA as “a sham organization” headed by an individual “who is incapable and unprepared to display any modicum of independence or objectivity in the public postures he takes.
“The Government of Guyana maintains that the contract with Veridos was lawfully executed, with an internationally reputable group, and is intended to deliver a product that will transform citizen experience in Guyana by introducing the integrated electronic national identification card.
“Once introduced, the card will enable citizens to interact with all government agencies and many private sector entities using this single unique and secure identifier and will vastly improve the efficiency of service delivery to citizens,” the ministry added. CMC