Politics

State agencies save $30m from Ghana Card merger

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Nearly $30 million is being saved each year by the various state institutions that have successfully integrated their systems with the National Identification Authority (NIA) database.

The savings are being made from the absence of the procurement for new equipment, non-printing of new sector specific cards and non-duplication of services as the Ghana Card now serves as the sole identity for health insurance, social security, taxation and business transactions.

Information gathered by the Daily Graphic from some of the agencies indicated that the positive results formed part of the quest to build a vibrant identification system to facilitate socio-economic development.

So far, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) that used to print new cards for new members are no more doing so since linking their systems to the Ghana Card database for the biodata of applicants and members.

While SSNIT has linked 1.98 million of its members with the Ghana Card, the integration process by the NHIA has captured six million holders of the National Health Insurance card.

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has since April 1, 2021 replaced the tax identification numbers (TIN) with the Ghana Card personal identification number (PIN) for individual taxpayers.

Consequently, it has been able to expand the tax base from four million payers to over 16 million people who qualify to pay tax in the last two years after the linkage.

Efforts are also in place for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to plug into the National Identification System.

Interacting with some 20 selected West African journalists in Accra, the Executive Secretary of the NIA, Professor Ken Attafuah, stated that with the Ghana Card, the country was expected to save $1.5 billion over the next 15 years by eliminating duplications.

He said the projected cost savings could be secured through the operations of 12 state agencies, including the DVLA, Bank of Ghana (BoG), Ghana Police Service, SSNIT, NHIS, GRA and the Electoral Commission (EC).

Others are the Ministry of Education, the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

“Cost saving alone would account to $1.5 billion over the next 15 years from non-production of identity cards, duplication of services and non-procurement of equipment.

“Revenue to be generated from verification services would be used to settle the private investment secured for the project,” he said.

He added that the frequent use of the Ghana Card would enhance digitalisation, service delivery and boost social and economic inclusion.

Prof. Attafuah said with those gains, Ghana had now joined the league of countries with solid foundation digital public infrastructure (DPI) that allowed data to be shared between otherwise unconnected institutions in ways that could benefit the citizenry.

When the three core systems: identity, payments and data exchange exist simultaneously and can ‘talk’ to one another, people, businesses and governments could reap the full benefits of DPI.

DPI could help countries achieve their national priorities and accelerate the sustainable development goals (SDGs) if well designed and implemented.

Prof. Attafuah stated that the Ghana Card was a smart identity card with a dual interface, meaning both sides of it were readable and captured all the 10 fingerprints.

He said the card had the ability to capture the iris in case a person did not have fingers and so the eyes would be used for identification.

“The chip embedded in the card has a 148-storage capacity to help store information, including electronic passports.

These are some of the security features that make it impossible for the card to be cloned or duplicated,” he said.

The acting Deputy Director, Business Systems, NHIA, Joe Annor-Darkwah, in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, stated that the NHIA had made significant progress with the database integration in an attempt to make it possible for all resident in the country to use one card to access health care.

“We have so far linked six million holders of NHIS with the Ghana Card as the process is still ongoing.

The merger is being done through auto linkage and self-service.

“Once the linkage is done there is no need for the NHIS cards anymore because the Ghana Card is now accepted at the hospitals,” he said.

He said the NHIA had stopped printing cards for new entrances and had subsequently introduced an online registration platform called ‘My NHIS’.

It is a convenient mobile app solution to enable residents in the country and beyond to use their Ghana Card and sign up to the NHIS at their own convenience.

The app is similar to the NHIS mobile renewal platform, which enables people to comfortably sit anywhere and use their mobile phones to sign up to the NHIS.

“The socio-economic aspect of the solution was that people do not waste money on transportation to the offices of the NHIA and join long queues before they can be served.

“We are also not spending money to buy a lot of consumables at our district offices; we are not printing cards and this has been made possible through the integration with the Ghana Card,” he added.

SSNIT report
Information gathered by the Daily Graphic from SSNIT showed that it had linked more than 1.98 million SSNIT numbers with the Ghana Card, saving the scheme about GH¢60 million that would have otherwise gone into the printing of new cards.

That, it said, comprised 1.28 million active members, 395,567 pensioners and 307,804 inactive members (members who have not contributed in the last 12 months).

Between June 2021 and June 2022, SSNIT deployed its systems to allow members to merge their SSNIT and NIA numbers after issuing a directive that the Ghana Card was the only identification that will be recognised by the trust in July 2022.

Support NIA

A digital infrastructure analyst, Edward David, in a separate interview, entreated the government to adequately fund the NIA to fast-track the acquisition of the Ghana Card to facilitate the country’s digitalisation agenda.

To achieve that, he said the government must ensure that all statutory institutions, including the Electoral Commission and DVLA, linked up with the Ghana Card.

He said that would enable the government to make huge cost savings and raise revenue that could be rechanneled into other physical infrastructure such as roads, schools, and hospitals.

He added that over time, safe and inclusive DPI would help create a vibrant and competitive economy for the country.

“This report is produced under the DPI Africa Journalism Fellowship Programme of the Media Foundation for West Africa and Co-Develop.”

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