Consultations for the implementation of Unique ID in Timor-Leste

Thu. 18 of February of 2021, 16:07h

The temporary technical committee for the preparation of an integrated strategy aimed at the implementation of a unique identifier system (Unique ID) of Timorese citizens is organizing, under this program, two seminars for public consultation, with development partners on February 18th, 2021, and with representatives of civil society on February 19th, 2021. The seminars take places in the Suai room, of Timor Plaza, in Dili.

The opening session was attended by the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, who provided a general framework for the program, starting from the preparatory phase, which he started, at the former Ministry of Legislative Reform and Parliamentary Affairs.

The Minister thanked and acknowledged that the “development of this strategy benefited greatly from the support and assistance” that the various development partners provided. He also stressed that “this strategy is under discussion by the Government” and, therefore, “this is an opportune moment to receive comments that can improve this approach”, so that the strategy, the operational plan and its budget for the implementation of Unique ID may be finalized and subject to the Council of Ministers’ analysis by the end of March 2021.

The Minister stated that “the Unique ID is a centrepiece of our public administration reform” and that “the goal is to improve citizens’ access to a wide range of administrative and private sector services and reduce identity and financial fraud”, He also pointed out that this system “is the basis of e-government and ‘online’ transactions”.

The temporary technical committee presented the plan draft and asked the participants to submit comments, opinions and concerns in order to improve it.

The Unique ID will use a minimal set of digital data, stablishing a digital identity, to which a randomly generated unique identification number will be assigned. It has a minimal set of biographical information, such as name, date and place of birth, and this information is used only to meet identity and compliance verification needs, such as signing up for the government services and payments and opening a bank account. Biometric information, such as facial imaging, fingerprint data and possibly iris data, will also be used for people over the age of 13 years old, to establish the uniqueness of individuals and to facilitate secure authentication of a unique identity.

The system presented is currently used in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Malawi, Togo, Tanzania and is increasingly popular among Pacific countries. It is an inclusive, fast and economical system that allows the registration of persons with a birth certificate or declaration by local authorities for those who do not have birth certificates, and do not need access to the internet. The Unique ID will be designed to function as a platform for other systems, such as the identify card, or the voter, health and social security cards, allowing to improve these systems and prevent fraud and duplication. The plan aims to have one million people registered by the end of 2025.

Among the main benefits of implementing Unique ID for the population is the improvement in the quality and efficiency of public services received by citizens. The system will also promote access to the formal banking system, promoting financial inclusion and online banking.

For the Government, the unique identifier system will provide a better overview of all people residing in Timor-Leste, significantly improving state planning and saving time and money. It will also reduce the chances of fraud, false and duplicate identity, as well as increase the ability to share information between different databases, preserving privacy, and create a basis for other e-government initiatives.

The system will allow the private sector to reduce costs related to service delivery, reduce time, money and effort in business interactions with the Government, create a foundation for the digital economy and e-commerce and improve the overall economy with a “business-friendly” environment for businesses.

After public consultation with development partners and civil society, the strategy for implementing a unique identifier system will be finalized, and after that, will be submitted for consideration and voting by the Council of Ministers. Unique ID is one of several ongoing initiatives undergoing within the scope of public administration reform that aims to improve service delivery processes, strengthen accountability and performance incentives, improve human resource management and development, review functions and structures of the public administration and improve the administrative services provided to citizens and businesses.