Parliament is deliberating on the Huduma Bill 2021 today. The proposal received public participation at the start of the year.
This is an important bill and is tied to the Huduma Namba identification system, which has since seen the documents released to Kenyans who had registered for the same.
Huduma Namba, which is based on the nationwide database named NIIMS, will also be tied to all government services, meaning a person cannot receive such services from the government without the Huduma Card.
Huduma Namba has also attracted its fair share of publicity since it was made official in 2018.
The new identification system is defended as a better system than the ordinary ID cards that have reportedly, from time to time, been limiting in terms of practical uses.
The outcome? Well, the State says it has wasted a lot of resources duplicating registrations and eroded the trust that people had in the identity ecosystem.
Huduma Bill, 2021
The bill also seeks to issue Huduma Namba to newborns for tax reasons. The revision states that Huduma Namba will be assigned at birth, or upon enrolment. Parents should know that this registration exercise should be done within 90 days of birth, and it is compulsory. Late registrations will be met with a payment of a late registration penalty.
When the kid gets to the age of 6, then the parent will be asked to provide the necessary biometric data for the child to update their file in NIIMS.
Kenyans who enrol in NIIMs are then issued with a Huduma Card. Minors will be issued with a Minor’s Huduma Card. Refugees and foreigners will also be issued their respective Huduma Cards.
‘A child shall be enrolled into NIIMs – (a) in case of a newborn, immediately after birth; or (b) in the case of any other child upon appearing before a NIIMS designated officer accompanied by a parent or a guardian and providing the particulars set out in the First Schedule.’ – reads part of the Huduma Bill, 2021.
Once a minor attains the age of 18, he or she shall be issued with a relevant adult’s Huduma Card.
‘Every resident individual who has enrolled into the NIIMS established under the Huduma Act shall by default be registered as a taxpayer upon attaining the age of 18.‘
‘On completion of initial enrollment of resident individuals under the Huduma Act, the Commissioner shall activate tax obligations of every individual above the age f 18 years not registered as a taxpayer.’ – reads the amendment.
The bill adds that every government agency that depends on foundational data of a resident individual to offer a public service may be linked to NIIMs in a manner that enables the agency to authenticate personal data and transmit/access/retrieve foundational data needed for the given function.
The bill has also introduced data protection safeguards that were not mentioned in the proposal before.
‘Personal data collected under this Act shall be used solely to facilitate the objects of this Act. The Huduma Namba and any other biometric data collected under this Act shall not be published, displayed, or publicly posted’ – reads the bill.
It will be interesting to know what Parliament will decide on the bill at the end of the day.