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National Registration Bill passes without debate-Presents stiff checks and balances for electors

The National Registration amendment bill was passed early this morning unchallenged in the National Assembly.

This bill paves the way for a smooth process in applying for ID cards and processes surrounding prior to the holding of elections.

Key amendments for the bill include the Commissioner of Registration shall be subject to the direction and control of the Guyana Elections Commission, GECOM.

The Registrar General of Births and Deaths is now mandated once per month, to send a list of persons 14 years and older whose deaths have been registered under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act in the preceding months.

With receipt of the list, the Commissioner of Registration is authorised to cancel the registration of any person from the central and divisional registers whose names are on the list provided by the Registrar General.

The Commissioner is now mandated to send a quarterly report to the Commission of the cancelled registrations.

The Commissioner of Police must send to the Commissioner of Registration quarterly, a list of persons fourteen years and older, whose deaths have been reported to or recorded at police stations countrywide.

Similarly, the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health shall send such a report to the GECOM Commissioner quarterly.

Any person who wilfully and with the intent to deceive, is registered in more than one divisional register or applies for such, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months.

The preparation, issuance and distribution of national identification cards will now be continuous, whereby a person can register and receive his/her ID card in the shortest time practicable time, even if it is not an election period.

In relation to registration, if a person submits false information or withholds prior registration information, that person commits a crime and the penalty is a $500,000 fine, coupled with 5 years imprisonment.

There is also a hefty punishment of five years in prison and a fine of $5 million for anyone who, provides false information for and ID card, registers for a new ID card while in possession of one and alleging its loss, damage or destruction; uses a false or another individual's ID card; or allows someone to use their ID card.

This bill, together with the amended Representation of the People bill, is destined to strengthen Guyana’s electoral system that was deemed porous during the 2020 regional and general elections.

This was a promise made by the PPP/C administration to ensure there is electoral reform before any election is held. This commitment followed the 2020 elections controversy that ended in mass protest and public mayhem.

This amended bill strips the power of GECOM to determine the period of continuous registration, implanting two cycles of registration starting January to May with the qualifying date of June 30, and from July to November, with a qualifying date being December 31.

This eliminates the process of house to house registration.

This amendment also eliminates the need for residency status to be registered.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, noted that "there is a removal across the board to not have any residency requirements anywhere and the language used to substitute is an address; an address at some locality or an address in Guyana that satisfies the constitutional position."

He furthered that, "you don't have to be a resident but you must have an address and there is a verification process."

With no debate being put forward by the opposition members, the bill was passed as printed.


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