As we reported earlier, the Government of Belize is looking to centralize license and registration system which would see the nine municipalities no longer issuing drivers licenses. A formal agreement was signed this morning in this regard between the Government and the Taiwan Embassy, which is funding the project with two point eight million US dollars. Mike Singh is the Central Technological Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister; he spoke to the media on the concept and the benefits of the centralized system.
“This perhaps goes back to the move towards decentralization where the municipalities have gotten to a point where you have small municipalities that are running complete license systems that include driver’s licenses, vehicle licenses and there is no central connection between all of them and then you have some municipalities that have more resources than others. So Belize City might be able to have a system that works better than Benque Viejo or Independence so the idea is that government is going to create a system that all these municipalities will subscribe to or else integrate their systems in so there is one national database where you can exchange information among each other, we could have one standard license format and protocol so that Belize itself has a licensing regime as opposed to one municipality on its own. By sharing information across the system between the different entities it means that you can corroborate information so that means in other words they will have user access which the system will not control what the user does but the integrity of the information eventually as we build our more inter-operable systems throughout government will mean that we will then be able to verify identities for drivers licenses with Social Security or maybe the Vital Statistics or Immigration. So it means that that person can be identified throughout the system because you are verifying different stores of data that he has interacted with along with bio-metric data to make sure that that is the same person.”
Also present at the signing in the Santa Rita Room at the Radisson Fort George, was the Minister of Transport, Edmond Castro.
“This system when you swipe your driver’s license we should be able to tell you exactly who you are, where your driver’s license was first issued. You can’t say that this is your first driver’s license all you did was change from your father’s name to your mother’s name so if I say my mother is Tablada so I can get one in Tablada and I could get one in Castro, in my cousin’s Smith, no more of those foolishness. We will be able to assist the entire country. As the director of CITO mentioned the customs department is an integral part of this system. We will be able to record the vehicle upon entry into our country, we will be able to make sure we have one of the best systems. This system that we are getting will be one of the best systems and we will make sure that we have able and capable personnel to man this system, to ensure that it works to the best of its ability and to ensure that the country receives the necessary benefits.”
As we noted, once the system comes on stream, the nine municipalities will not be handling the issuances of licenses which is a source of revenue for their offices. So will this new system take monies from the various town and city councils? We asked Singh and the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight to explain.
“The government would that they would have to increase the subventions to compensate for any loss on that side. I don’t know the details but I’m sure that will be linked to the address of the licensee and then a prorating and sharing because the intention is to centralize for uniformity, for security and that sort of thing but it is not the intention to take back or take away or undermine the revenue base of the municipalities, they will get compensated. I don’t know the details but I’m sure that will be linked to the address of the licensee and then a prorating and sharing because the intention is to centralize for uniformity, for security and that sort of thing but it is not the intention to take back or take away or undermine the revenue base of the municipalities, they will get compensated.”
The Government of Belize is putting in eight hundred thousand dollars towards this project via in-kind contribution. The system is expected to be online within two years.