By Cecil Mensah
As tongues are wagging about the misinformation put out there by the National Identification Authority (NIA), the agency tasked to register Ghanaians and non- Ghanaians, that the purpose for the one hundred fifteen million Dollars Chinese Exim bank loan, was going to be used to build another data for the onward distribution of a synchronized Ghanacard, it has emerged that the Public Private Partnership (PPP) company handling the registration of foreigners, has opted to transform the undistributed fifteen million cards to smartcards.
IMS, a subsidiary of Margins Group of companies, a wholly owned Ghanaian company, has said that the proposal was to transform the Ghanacards at the cost of the company to address the delays in the issuance of the cards, which the Government of Ghana (GoG) has spent millions on.
Speaking at the media briefing in Accra, Mr Joseph Iroko, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IMS said, as part of the PPP agreement, the NIA was supposed to deliver data on five hundred thousand foreigners residing in the country.
He said, in return the IMS would pay an annual license fee of two million Dollars to NIA, and this arrangement went through an approval process, that involved a multitude of stakeholders including, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Security secretariat, Ministry of Finance, Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Ministry of Interior, Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and the Ministry Justice and Attorney-General’s office, before approval was given.
He maintained that the current data at NIA contains data that captures eight fingers, but the newly
Developed smartcards captures all ten fingerprints and it encompasses all data fields used by all stakeholders, especially for crime detection in the country.
He added that the new cards enable NIA to satisfy the compliance of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
He explained that the objective of the arrangement was to transform NIA into a self-sustaining institution; weaned off the Government subvention and still be able to deliver on its core mandate of registering Ghanaians and non -Ghanaians.
As part of the arrangements, an amount of five hundred thousand Dollars was advanced to NIA, he said.
He stressed that IMS, has not taken a single pesewa from Government, but has rather invested its own time and resources to delivering cards to all foreigners and Ghanaians as whole
He said, as part of the PPP arrangement, IMS has generated over one million Dollars under the FIMS project of registering fifty thousand foreigners living in the country.
He said data available as part of the registration of foreigners has it that there over fifteen thousand foreign students representing one hundred thirty-four different countries.
He added Chinese nationals are in the majority followed by Nigerians who have failed in renewing their registrations since the project started two years ago.
In a related development, Mr Josiah Cobbah, the Acting Executive Director of NIA joined by its Board Chairman Mr Larry Adjetey disclosed at a press conference that there is nothing on towards about the PPP arrangement and admitted the arrangement has brought life into the operations of the operations of the company.
He said the contract with IMS had Parliamentary approval involving the following stakeholders: National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA),Ghana Statistical Service, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and Financial Intelligence Centre(FIC).
The rest are Bank of Ghana (BoG), Birth and Death, Free Zones Board, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and Controller and Accountants General Department.
He said it difficult for all these companies to pass the company when there was a problem with the contract.
He denied the rumour making the rounds that Chinese Exim bank loan was for the issuance of the smart cards.
According to him, the loan was for the infrastructure of NIA and not for the issuance of cards as being speculated in the media.