The long-awaited national identity cards will not be ready this year as earlier promised since the government lacks money to implement the project.

Government said on Thursday that it has no money for reviving the botched national Identity Cards (ID) project until next financial year (2012/2013).

This means that the project will be more than two years behind the agreed deadline of December 2010 and Ugandans who had hoped to get identity cards will have to wait much longer.

Internal Affairs permanent secretary, Dr Stephen Kagoda, has said there is no money to continue with the project but that government also needs an extra Shs87.4b for the final implementation of the project, whose time-frame remains unknown, a matter that has got lawmakers raising the red flag.

“It is true implementation is behind schedule but efforts are being made to keep on track. We were delayed by lack of funds,” said Dr Kagoda.

By last December, the German firm Muhlbauer Technology had only produced 400 national IDs, a year after it was hurriedly procured outside official procurement methods and given billions of taxpayers’ money.

The company which first promised to have all Ugandans get IDs in one year has since received $47m (about Shs115b) out of the $64m and are demanding additional Shs100b.
However, Internal Affairs officials say the company was only contracted to provide the technical equipment for producing IDs.

Parliament is set to debate a key motion on the alleged corruption in the award and implementation of the ID project next week.
Legislators on the parliamentary Defence and Internal Affairs Committee, however, on Thursday questioned the delay and demanded accountability of all the funds so far spent on the project.

The State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr James Baba, said Shs87.4b additional resources will be needed to kick-start the actual process, which he said has been committed in writing by Finance ministry.

Muhlbauer Technology Group was in March 2010 contracted without competitive bidding to print IDs after reported lobbying by the then German Ambassador to Kampala, Reinhard Butchnolz who met the President Museveni a week before the contract was signed to make a case for the firm.

The company was expected to deliver 3.5 million ID cards by December 2010 and at least 21 million cards by the end of the project in June 2013.
The MPs queried the procurement of the ID equipment that was dumped at Entebbe Airport and why the President last year launched the ID project without releasing funds for the project.

“We need to know how this company was identified and the records progress with evidence of minutes supporting the records. We must know what went wrong,” said MP Simon Mulongo said.

Kasambya County MP Patrick Mulindwa demanded to know why the data collected during last year’s polls has not yet been updated. “The system portrayed me as the Buwekula representative… behind my ID they put Wakiso district yet I come from Mubende. The entire system needs to be streamlined,” he said.

By MERCY NALUGO, Daily Monitor

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