President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has launched Liberia's National Biometric Identification System, saying the occasion marks a significant accomplishment of her government and celebrates a key milestone in government's desire and efforts to modernize the operations of both public and private sectors.
Launching the national biometric ID system on Monday, 30 October at the National Identification Registry (NIR) Office in Congo Town, behind the YWCA Building in Monrovia, Mrs. Sirleaf said the system has enormous benefits and potentials for Liberia and the ECOWAS Sub-region.
According to the President, the system also has the capacity to issue national ID Cards that meet the standards and requirements of ECOWAS which will make them official travel documents within the subregion.
President Sirleaf says the system will gather and manage basic information from citizens and foreign residents and issue to each registered person an identification card with a unique ID number.
With these ID cards and the database that supports the system, she says government will be able to among other things, reduce the time it takes and the amount of money it costs to issue passports and driver licenses and register for elections.
"Also, our civil servants and our pensioners will have better and cheaper form of biometric identification and many institutions in the private sectors including the banking and insurance institutions and experience a significant reduction in fraudulent practices that arise from fake identities," Mrs. Sirleaf says.
The President recalls that the idea of the national identification cards came out of an extensive post war consultation that was conducted throughout Liberia to develop the first poverty reduction strategy.
"This card will be one of the common denominators between all Liberians because from the highest person in our land to the common person walking down the street ... will have the same national ID Card as proof of belonging to the same union - the Republic of Liberia," Mrs. Sirleaf adds.
By this accomplishment, President Sirleaf notes that Liberia will be among the first group of countries that are complying with the important decision of the ECOWAS and lay the foundation for fewer more friends and citizens of ECOWAS.
In remarks, Internal Affairs Minister and Board Chair of NIR Dr. Henrique Tokpha thanked President Sirleaf for the amount of achievements realized under her government.
Earlier speaking, NIR Executive Director J. Tiah Nagbe announced that the institution is expected to carry out registration at every locality where voter registration took place this year. He says the system has a dynamic database and the ID Card which carries a ten - digit number to be called the National Identification Number.
He announced that registration would have begun with President Sirleaf at the end of the program on Monday, to be followed by officials of government. By 15 November, he says registration will be opened to the public which is to be increased by early next year.