Jamaica to introduce online birth certificate application services

June 28, 2020
Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Fayval Williams.

Jamaicans locally and overseas will soon be able to apply online to the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) for birth certificates.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams, on Friday, announced that the RGD will be shortly be providing digital birth certificate services.

These, she said will be facilitated under the National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI) project, being rolled out by the Government.

“This means that all Jamaicans will have the opportunity to request, print and verify their birth certificates, without face-to-face transactions; and they can do it from anywhere in the world. This, we believe, will be a major step towards managing identity risk, as we evolve into a digital society,” the Minister said.

She was speaking during the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce E-Signature Legislation Webinar.

The NPKI, which is expected to reposition Jamaica as a digital society, is a system incorporating policies, institutions and technologies that will manage the distribution, authentication and revocation of digital certificates , the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature or seal - which will be issued by the certifying authority, e-Gov Jamaica Limited.

The system, which is used globally by governments to create an enabling environment for electronic transactions, will not only allow for the collection of birth certificates, but will facilitate the implementation of e-passports, sending secure emails with e-signatures across Government ministries, agencies and departments, and create the foundation for implementing digital and global IDs.

Mrs. Williams cited the findings of a 2019 Inter-American Development Bank and Transparency International study which showed that only 11 per cent of government transactions in Jamaica can be concluded in one visit, with 45 per cent requiring three or more.

This, she reitirated, does not augur well for the development of a digital society and economy.

Minister Williams noted that as the world becomes increasingly digital and more services are delivered online, facilitating the ease of doing business will be a fundamental part of this transition.

“If there’s one thing we have learned from this COVID-19 environment is that we need to go digital in all our processes. In many ways, COVID-19 has disrupted our systems and procedures. More and more businesses and individuals are working from home, and meetings and classes are being conducted in a virtual space,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Williams contended that business transactions, both in Government and the private sector, must also be brought online for us to really make the bold steps towards building a digital economy.

Further, the Minister said with the emergence of e-services and e-payment mechanisms, Government and all businesses will need to adjust the services they provide to citizens.

“As a Ministry, we are taking the bold step to strengthen our ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure to ensure that Jamaica enters the digital future with modern legislation, and that all our citizens will have access to the internet and information and communication technologies,” she said.

The Minister added that we are increasing this access by launching mygovjm app that will improve citizens’ access to their Government, e-participation, e-decision making and e-access.

Mrs. Williams advised that e-Gov Jamaica has developed a working prototype of a mobile app for Tax Administration Jamaica, targeting specific services offered by the agency to improve service delivery time.

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