Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 27, 2016 (SKNIS): Senator and Minister of State, Honourable Wendy Phipps has stated unequivocally that the confidentiality of the data collected during the National Household Registry (NHR) surveys will be maintained.
“I must tell you that the data would have been collected from the requisite households on the basis of confidentiality which means that not in any time now or in the future would the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development be divulging the personal information that would have been shared by the householders and family occupants, in terms of their individual status of living,” Minister of State Phipps said at the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference yesterday (October 26).
The surveys which took place at the end of May and into June 2015 were part of the revamping of the Social Safety Net of the Federation and fall under the 13 recommendations that were proposed following the completion of the National Social Protection Strategy in 2012. The Department of Social Services and Community Development is carrying out these activities with the assistance of Ayala Consulting Group which works strategically with Ayala Consulting in Ecuador and GEDESO (a management consultancy with a specialization in strengthening implementation of Social Protection Programmes) to assist the world’s poor and vulnerable by designing and implementing effective social safety nets.
Ayala Consulting undertook a mission to St. Kitts during the week of November 16, 2015, to start the execution of the data sharing process of the NHR. The consulting agency officially delivered the NHR Management Information System (MIS) along with MIS documents and provided training on the use of MIS modules.
Locally, to facilitate the process, legislation such as “Data Protection” has had a first reading in National Parliament.
“And all of that is meant to protect data from individuals submitted to projects such as the household registry to make sure that you maintain the confidentiality of that data,” Minister Phipps said. “And a lot more of that would become germane as we move forward as an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) predominant jurisdiction to make sure that you protect the identity of persons, protect online transactions and so forth.”
Minister Phipps revealed that while the data will have to be shared departmentally, specific criteria will be formalized with the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU).
“In order to facilitate the sharing of data between the Attorney General’s chambers, the IT (Information Technology) Department and the Ministries of Finance as well as Sustainable Development, the agreement calls for the signing of some MOUs between those ministries and the collecting ministries in the Ministry of Social Development and Community Affairs, so that we keep a proper handle on the data that we have in front of us,” she said.
According to Senator Phipps, the project is expected to be an indicator of the local human development index demonstrating such things as poverty levels and the social safety net programmes that the government would have to put in place in order “to ensure a basic standard of living below which we will not allow out citizens or residents to live.”
“Another area that we’re looking at in terms of the single household registry is in terms of the efficiency or greater efficiency in terms of decision-making when we are talking about matters such as housing, especially housing for the poor, housing for persons who are economically challenged and we would have heard the Prime Minister mention earlier that come the new year, he will be unveiling a policy as it relates to housing,” she said. “So for example that project would have been informed by the data that we have collected. And the reason for that is to make sure that the persons for whom the government makes decisions in terms of rendering public assistance or social assistance are people who actually need it, so that we eliminate or at least reduce the likelihood of abuses in the system where people who are getting help are not necessarily the people who need help.”