Mr Dan Botwe, Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD) has reiterated Government’s commitment to strengthening the identity management eco-system in the country.
He said the Government was ensuring that policies, laws, regulations, and guidelines were available and implemented at all times.
Mr Botwe said this at the launch of this year’s Births and Deaths Registry’s Mass Mobile Registration in Accra.
The Mass Mobile Registration exercise, an annual programme initiated by the Births and Deaths Registry in collaboration with the MLGDRD in 2004 was to improve and encourage early infant registration and publicise its services nationwide.
The President echoed the commitment of the Government in improving the identity management system in the State of the Nation Address to Parliament in February 2022 as it charts the course of technology and digitalisation of the economy.
Mr Botwe said the Ministry spearheaded the enactment of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 2020 (Act 1027), passed by Parliament and assented to by the President in October 2020 to achieve credible data on births and deaths.
He said provisions in the Act made room for decentralised operations and outlined clear functions of the Registry and within 12 months of the coming into force of the Act, the Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations, 2021 (L.I 2436) was passed.
The Minister said the revised legal frameworks mandated the Registry to develop a robust and credible registration system to enable the registration of all births and deaths that occurred in the country within a specified time.
He said the awareness and the general understanding of births and death registrations, which would provide reliable and credible data was pivotal in Government’s planning and development of socio-economic programmes.
Hence, Mr Botwe said, steps were taken to integrate the registration systems with relevant Government agencies to enhance the collation of administrative data.
He said the Registry’s engagement with key institutions, including the National Identification Authority, National Health Insurance Authority sought to ensure that every child born was given a unique identification number which would stay with him or her forever.
“It will interest you to know that for zero to twelve months (0-12), birth registration is free of charge. Similarly, death registration within the first ten (10) days after occurrence is at no cost,” he said.
The Minister said in 2021, 80 per cent and 17 per cent of birth and death registrations were recorded respectively, however, he bemoaned the minimal importance attached to death registration, which was one of the greatest constraints in the records system.
Mr Botwe said Section 32 subsection 4 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020 (1027) required that a person who conducted a burial must inspect the death certificate and burial permit before proceeding with the burial, hence, the citizenry must comply.
Article 7 of United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child states that every child has the right to a legally registered name that is legitimately documented by Government.
That, Mr Botwe said was also consistent with the Sustainable Development Goal target 16.9, which challenged countries to provide legal identity for all, therefore, an unregistered, child, he said, was at risk of exclusion in accessing social intervention programmes.
He said through the efforts of the Office of the Vice President, the Registry received 2,450 tablets from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), and eight vehicles under the Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West Africa Project (HISWAP) funded by the World Bank to strengthen the statistical systems in the West African sub-region.
The tablets are projected to help speed up data collection all over the country and improve the country’s civil registration and vital statistics systems in the medium to long term.
He urged management and staff of the Registry to continue to work hard in creating a safe and friendly environment for the public in their operations.
“I commend the registry in its effort to automate their operation and services to the public by piloting an online payment portal on Ghana.gov and also establishing a call centre to respond to the public enquiries,” he said.