National ‘number’ system considered

The Cayman Islands government is again considering the creation of a national number system for all residents, similar to a social security card or national identification card system.

The problem at the moment is whether the public sector has the financial and personnel resources to monitor and maintain such a system.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said earlier this month at a government professional development conference that an announcement would be forthcoming regarding the development of a system of “unique identifiers” that would allow an individual to use “one number” to procure all government services.

It would also let government services coordinate services like immigration, health care and pensions for both Caymanian and non-Caymanian residents, according to Ministry of Home Affairs chief officer Eric Bush.

“It’s one of the intended goals of e-government,” Mr. Bush said. “The whole intent of it is to improve efficiency and customer service.”

Mr. Bush admits the proposal has “not been progressed” and is merely at the discussion stage for the moment.

Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo is heading up the e-government strategy group and said the committee intends to resume meeting in January to discuss number ID cards “at the top of the agenda.”

Mr. Suckoo said the government, on a smaller scale, had already implemented such a project through the Department of Vehicle Licensing, but needed to discuss matters further before proceeding.

Although the latest government proposal for a numbering system for residents is not being referred to as a “national ID card,” the Legislative Assembly has debated various proposals to create such a system over the last three decades with little success.

The last instance was tried in 2007, via a private members motion made to the Legislative Assembly by then George Town member Alfonso Wright. Supporters of the 2007 motion said ID cards could have more functions than simply listing a person’s name and age for identification or security purposes. Health information could be included along with emergency contact data, members said.

Advocates also said the measure would provide people without photo IDs a means of identification they could use when making credit or debit card transactions at local stores.

When such a motion was first debated in 1987, it was defeated. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush was in the legislature at the time.

“We made attempts to get such a system, and the first time we did it, we were called communists,” Mr. Bush said during the 2007 debate.

The second time the ID card system was proposed in a private member’s motion was in 1989 when a “voluntary” ID card system was approved on a 13-1 vote of the Legislative Assembly. Lawmakers said the system was never implemented. Mr. Wright’s motion in 2007 was also approved, to no apparent effect.

Deputy Governor Manderson discussed the national number card system during the development conference in the context of improving customer service, an area in which the civil service often receives criticism.

“That’s what our customers are saying about the service we are providing and it has to change,” Mr. Manderson said. “We have to take this criticism seriously.”

He said the civil service was continuing to work on its “digital by default” program, improving government’s IT strategy and putting more public services on line, particularly payment options.

Also, the deputy governor’s office is reviewing local laws and procedures, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, to identify which areas are the most “irritating and bureaucratic.”

Mr. Manderson said the idea was to create “predictability” in the decisions made by government.


  1. The use of a National ID Card would be a good idea if used strictly for governmental purposes. The card would need to be limited to government as private enterprise would have far too much information on the individual if they were allowed to access the card. It would be full of health data, that companies would market to. It would have financial data, that institutions would then have access to bank and credit data. It would have personal data such as addresses, which individuals could use. It would be subject to identity fraud.

    The government would need to strictly regulate who and when the card could be accessed. Stiff penalties and fines would need to be meted out for unauthorised access of the card.

    On second thought. who needs more rules and regulations. The card would create more problems than it would solve.

  2. It would be a lot easier if a bar code were tattooed on the forehead of every person resident here. This way a bar code scanner would read the information and also provide for privacy in the event a casual observer were nearby. Scanners could be placed at the entrance to every theater, the library, movie house, bank, keeping a good record of every citizen’s movement. This is not an invasion of privacy, its good government in action, governing us morning, noon and night. Now who reading this could deny that this is not a good idea?

  3. Franz, you are very close to introducing Nazi ideology to a peaceful country. Your papers please? Just do your job at the borders and we will be fine. Franz, I am very, very disappointed in you and Mr Bush. You know who I am, you know where I live, you know my children, my grand-children, what more do you want?

  4. My dear Caymanians which I include status and resident holders. Once again the talk of a National lottery is surfacing. Being a citizen of this country, and have closely watched and commented sometimes on national issues, I feel content, to express a few thoughts which are only my thoughts, and does not have to be agreed by anyone reading.
    I believe Cayman Islands is the only Caribbean Island that do not have a National lottery.
    My concern is that if this is going to introduced; that all avenues be properly looked into, making sure that it will be a benefit to all and it will not fail.
    I also believe that Mr Franz Manderson and Mr Bush cares about this Island, and would not attempt to do anything that would endanger the people, either byway of lottery or other means.
    I believe once again Members of Parliament need to have public meetings on this. Representatives from each district should call political meetings in their respective districts and hear what the voice of the people has to say.
    I also believe that where religion is concerned Pot has no business in Frying pan fight Meaning that persons who are Christians and in the church should concentrate on being able to keep their congregation together, and only working outside the box to win more souls in a genuine way. As long as the earth remain, there will be Positive and Negative thinkers. People should not be forced into doing anything. All should be persuaded by their own mind. If some feel that we should have this National lottery, then so be it. Those who oppose do not have to buy it. Simple as that.
    Other thoughts is that I do not agree with some comments of having a Bar-code tattooed into our foreheads, but again that is only my thinking. Some may welcome that. However those of us who believe in the bible would not want to go that direction; while there are persons who do not believe in the bible and go what ever direction they want to. It is just a matter of choice in having the opportunity to think outside the box and a decision of survival.

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