Huduma Namba cash cut to half in review


Catherine Wanjiku displays her Huduma Namba card after receiving it from Interior CS Fred Matiang'i at Kiambu County Commissioner's offices on November 18, 2020 during the launch of the national issuance. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The State has slashed the Huduma Namba budget by half as Kenyans fail to pick up the controversial biometric identification card.

Parliament has cut the budget for the roll-out of the ID cards to Sh500 million from the Sh1 billion that the Treasury set in the supplementary budget 1 for 2021/22.

The government has spent more than Sh10 billion in the exercise, which in September saw it issue only 7.3 million cards even as it seeks to withdraw the current national identity card in the next few months.

The Huduma Namba Bill 2021 aims to curb unlawful use of information like names, date of birth, postcode and residences.

The proposed law ropes in the provisions of the Data Protection Act in the processing of personal data under Huduma Namba.

Kenya rolled out the mass distribution of the Huduma Namba card in 2019 in an effort to register citizens under the e-platform.

“Increase Sh500 million for Huduma Namba Cards,” says the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) in a report on the Supplementary Budget 1 of 2021/22.”

The BAC report did not explain how the Sh500 million will be utilised only indicating it is meant for the Huduma Namba cards

The State is seeking Parliamentary approval to pass the Huduma Namba Bill, 2021 to unlock an impasse in the roll-out of Huduma Namba cards to Kenyans after the High Court declared it illegal for conflicting with the Data Protection Act.

Under the Huduma Namba Bill, 2021 that is currently before Parliament, Kenyan adults will be compelled to have the new ID to access government services, such as getting treatment at State hospitals, marrying or filing tax returns.

The State-backed Huduma Namba Bill seeks to have about 3.2 million or 30 percent of Kenyans who applied for Huduma Namba cards and failed to pick up their cards access their documents in the year to June 2022.

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna recently announced that only 7.3 million out of 10.5 million people have collected their cards as the government seeks to withdraw the current national identity cards in the next few months.

The government has been planning to roll out the second phase of registration, giving a chance to those who did not enroll in the first exercise to acquire the document set to replace the national identity card.

The Treasury set aside Sh1 billion for the second round of registration in the financial year ending June 2022.

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