BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, February 20, 2019 (CMC) – The Barbados government says it has lost an estimated four million dollars, as a result of having to dump nearly half a million chip-based identification cards.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Kay McConney, told Parliament, during the debate on the Estimates for the financial year, 2019/2020, that about seven years ago, the former government had invested in the multi-purpose ID cards that were to be used to “re-register the population” and for national insurance purpose.
She revealed the cards would also have been used to pay for bus rides, but she told legislators that the chip-based cards “sat in storage all of these years”, rendering them almost useless.
“Just this year, the ministry had those cards sent for forensic testing and the ministry also spoke with the manufacturers of the silicone chips that are in those cards, and unfortunately, the manufacturers of the chip have informed Barbados that those cards, having sat in storage for so many years, cannot guarantee their performance at this time.
“We were also told that the chips are no longer being manufactured and therefore, should Barbados choose to proceed and use those cards, they will not be providing any technical support should there be a malfunction,” McConney told legislators.
She said that Barbados is now forced to forfeit an estimated four million dollars in smart ID cards, and that the project came at a time when the island could “ill-afford to be losing that kind of money”.
However, she said the nearly BDS$2.5 million database to accommodate the ID cards, was still in place and could still be used.
“So out of a close-to-seven-million-dollar investment, we will be able to save less than half,” she said, promising that the government will be pushing ahead with the implementation of new digital ID cards.
Barbados’ ID card is currently laminated paper, printed with basic information — a registration number, the holder’s name, sex, date of birth, nationality, height, date of issue and a signature.
She said Cabinet recently agreed to move forward with the new digital ID cards, understanding that the old cards would have to be discarded and replaced by new ones, to take us into the future.
“We know that Barbados can now still implement a national ID, but with the advanced technology, that will cause us, not only to have digital IDs now, but mobile IDs, where you can use your cell phone for ID purposes, to pay and to do business with government…,” said McConney.