Census incentive to cost $12 million
The Government’s proposal to give $50 tala to every Samoan citizen who registers for the national census identification scheme will come at a total cost of $12 million.
The benefit was included as part of the Government’s ‘Phase II’ stimulus package, contained in a budget presented to Parliament on Tuesday, and which contained $83 million in measures designed to kickstart the economy.
The Ministry of Finance (M.O.F.), Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofaasisina Oscar Malielegaom, said the cost projections for the policy measure were based on demographic forecasts.
“We have an annual population growth rate of .00875%,” the Ministry head said.
“Our last census in 2016-2017 recorded a little over 197,000 so multiplying by the growth rate for three years gives us [an] approximately [total] 202,500 population count [which costs] $10.12 million.”
He said an extra $2 million has been added to the base cost of the policy to account for operational costs required to carry out the census, including equipment, staff costs, transport and public awareness campaigns among others.
The national I.D. project started in 2017 with an external consultancy service engaged to provide assistance for developing the new system. However, in 2018 the Ministry of Finance sought further technical assistance to assist the Government in establishing a national ID system and to upgrade existing civil registration systems.
"This assignment is focused on assisting the Government with strategic planning and the technical design and procurement of both systems, including core software and hardware," an M.O.F. statement on the forthcoming national system said.
"It is closely linked with broader development imperatives for Samoa to invest in digital identity management to support digital platforms, including e-Government, and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public and private service decision-making and services’ delivery, including financial inclusion."
In 2017, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi spoke to the importance of the National Identification Card.
Like the United States’ Green Card, Tuilaepa said, the new I.D. will replace voters’ I.D. and can be used as a Health or Medical I.D., and for other services such as the Samoa National Provident Fund, a drivers’ licence.
Last week, Leasiosio said the $50 was an incentive to citizens to sign up for the programme.
“This is an added incentive [that] will encourage members of the public to come and register,” the C.E.O. said.
“There is also incentive for housing and this will be in line with the Village Voice [section of the Samoa Observer]”.