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Govt considering combined data hub for storing public info

  • Published at 11:17 pm November 25th, 2020
Data
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A proposal was placed in this regard at the weekly Ecnec meeting on Tuesday

The government is considering forming a "combined data hub" to store and regulate all public data under a single entity, including NIDs, birth registration certificates, death certificates, and educational and professional record certificates.

A proposal was placed in this regard at the weekly meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday.  

The prime minister chaired the meeting virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence, while the Ecnec members and others concerned joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.

Sources at the meeting said that the prime minister appreciated the proposal and directed officials to review it with the ministries and authorities concerned.

“The prime minister has said that a combined data hub will minimize cost, and this will allow all the government departments to collect necessary information from one place,” said a top level official who attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, Planning Commission member Abul Kalam Azad told reporters: “At the Ecnec meeting, we recommended that NID services be brought under the revenue budget and not be kept under any project.”

While talking to Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday, Azad said: “The government is considering whether all public data registration activities, including NID registration, birth and death registration, and registration activities carried out by the Directorate General of Family Planning and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) can be brought under a single entity."

"At present the Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Ministry is issuing birth and death certificates, the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) is handling registration of mothers and newborn babies, and the Election Commission is issuing NIDs; money is being spent on doing things very similar in nature," he added.

“We have to talk with all the stakeholders to give this initiative a final shape. Besides, this is a very big task to be accomplished,” said the Planning Commission member.

A minister who had attended Tuesday's Ecnec meeting, seeking anonymity, also confirmed the proposal regarding a single station for storing and managing all public data.

EC may lose authority over NIDs

Sources also said that if this proposal finally came to light then the Election Commission would lose its authority over the registration and management of NIDs. 

The commission will then only issue voter ID cards by collecting necessary information from the freshly formed unified public data hub.

A new law will be needed  

According to the current National Identity Registration Act 2010, only the Election Commission has the authority to issue NIDs. 

If the government decides to go ahead with this proposal then a new law will have to be formed or an amendment to the existing law will be required.

Home Ministry wants NID authority; Cabinet Division says no 

Recently, the Home Ministry sent a proposal to the Prime Minister's Office to take over responsibility for NID registration and regulation. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina then tasked the Cabinet Division to look into various aspects of the ministry's proposal. 

Following this, the Cabinet Division formed a high-level committee to look into the matter and then rejected the Home Ministry's proposal, citing constitutional and law related conflicts.

At the same time, the Cabinet Division suggested that the Prime Minister's Office set up a separate body for the protection and management of public data, claiming that it would reduce government expenditure.

Sources have said that last week, the Prime Minister's Office received a report from the Cabinet Division regarding this issue. Dhaka Tribune was able to obtain a copy of that report.

Cabinet Division wants total authority

In the report submitted to the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet Division itself sought authority over all types of public registration activities, including NIDs.   

"The Cabinet Division coordinates all the ministries under the direct supervision of the prime minister. This department (the Cabinet Division) conducts the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) activities regarding the address, birth, death and other information of citizens. NIDs are also a type of civil registration. 

"Therefore, steps can be taken to place all such activities of civil registration, including NIDs, under the authority of the Cabinet Division by amending the existing laws, policies and rules,” report of the Cabinet Division proposed.

The Cabinet Division said that registration and management of information regarding birth, death, cause of death, marriage, divorce and adoption are supposed to be included in the CRVS.

In Bangladesh, there is a need to build an integrated service management system that includes the aforementioned public information management and registrations, including migration and education.

The report of the Cabinet Division also said: “The Cabinet Division has been working since 2014 to develop an integrated and effective CRVS system in light of the National Population Register (NPR) enacted in 2010 to avoid duplication, inconsistencies and contradictions in civil registration work under the direction of the prime minister.”

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