KAMPALA – Parliament’s joint committee on Public Accounts has learnt that the National Identification and Registration Authority- NIRA has to date not issued a single National Identification Number (NIN) to some of the selected beneficiaries of the COVID-19 relief cash.
Led by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Maj Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, officials from NIRA appeared before the joint committee on Public Accounts- Central and Local Government to explain their role in the list of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 cash, which was tabled before parliament by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja last month.
Under the initiative, the government has been distributing 100,000 Shillings to selected people classified as vulnerable during the 42-day lockdown which ended on Friday. The beneficiaries were identified from groups of people that depend on daily earnings in Kampala, all Cities, and Municipalities.
The Ministry of Finance released 53.5 billion Shillings for the 501,107 targeted beneficiaries who include bus or taxi drivers, conductors, Baggage carriers, wheelbarrow pushers, touts, traffic guides, Barmen, DJ’s, barmaids, waiters and bouncers, Bar, gym and restaurant workers, Boda Boda riders, special hire drivers and Uber drivers, Salons, massage parlour workers, teachers, and others.
Rosemary Kisembo, the NIRA Executive Director on Thursday told MPs that the data of beneficiaries was generated by structures outside NIRA that include town clerks of cities and municipalities. She added that NIRA’s role was to facilitate verification of the identified beneficiaries generated, by granting access to information in the National Identification register to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
“The access was to verify the generated beneficiary data in regards to NIN, Names and Date of Birth. This had been active since July 22 2020. NIRA further made arrangements to register and fast-track NIN issuance for any beneficiary identified but have never registered for National ID Card,” said Kisembo.
Asked by the joint committee how many vulnerable people who didn’t have National Cards were issued NINs by NIRA, Kisembo without giving numbers said that the process is still ongoing.
“When the names of the persons were given to us, we were in the middle of a lockdown situation where the government had decided that we should not have more than 20 persons gathering. We severally wrote, and requested that we shall carry out this exercise through LC I Chairpersons,” Kisembo explains in part.
She adds that NIRA submitted its forms to LCI Chairpersons and invited the public without creating crowds to fill them at this level. Kisembo told PAC that after having 20 forms filled, the Local Council Chairmen would invite NIRA to enrol on-site in a group that follows Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
However, PAC learnt that no single NIN has been issued out to vulnerable people meant to receive relief funds.
Asuman Basalirwa, the Vice-Chairperson PAC- Central Government was not convinced with Kisembo’s submission wondering why NIRA failed to facilitate a quicker process for vulnerable persons to receive NINs.
Sarah Opendi, the Tororo Woman MP also expressed concern that several beneficiaries could have missed out on the money due to NIRA’s slow process.
Kisembo pledged to give a detailed report to the joint committee on the verification that were carried out.
The joint committee also directed that NIRA avails the number of vulnerable people who have not been issued NINs.