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400,000 NIC requests lying in limbo

Outdated technology, lack of staff, the problem

With 2009 being considered as the year of elections and authorities attempting to make the national identity card mandatory to vote, it was, however revealed that around 400,000 applications for National Identity cards are left unprocessed at the Department of Persons Registration, Department sources said.

The use of outdated technology and the lack of staff has lead to this situation and the fact that the Department has to give priority to 115,000 applications from the Western Province will only delay the issuing of identity cards.

“The details in the National Identity cards are still written by hand and to make matters worse there is not adequate staff,” said a Department source. “Also several disputes between the Commissioner, A.G. Dharmadasa and some of his juniors have made matters worse,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner claimed that the fact that the identity cards are processed manually is a big problem as it takes a lot of time. He added that currently they can only process only 2,000 odd new cards a month but there are plans to increase the number to 5,000.

“There was a shortage of staff but we have been given permission to recruit 125 new staff members. So far we have recruited 87 and the remainder will be hired in the next few weeks. I think with the new staff we can address this issue,” Dharmadasa said. “But we have processed over 80,000 applications from the Western Province in the last few weeks. We have already posted 65,000 and despite the upcoming holidays we hope to process the remaining 45,000 before April 25,” he added.