The government is set to begin issuing the much-discussed electronic identification cards in September, an official said on Sunday.
Raydonnyzar Moenek, a spokesman with the Ministry of Home Affairs, told the Jakarta Globe that the government would begin handing out the new cards, also known as E-KTPs, in 197 districts, mostly in Java and Bali.
The E-KTP is being hailed by the government as a step forward that will simplify bureaucratic processes and improve national security by being tougher to forge.
The new smart cards will be equipped with an electronic chip that will contain more data than previously recorded, such as information on birth, land ownership and tax status.
They will also contain a biometric fingerprint and the holder’s new single identity number.
“We will split the distribution of the E-KTP into two phases,” Raydonnyzar said.
“The first distribution will be done in 197 districts in early September through the end of December 2011. That will be followed by 300 districts in 2012.”
He said the distribution of the cards was taking place in two phases to give those districts not yet ready more time to prepare for the program.
Raydonnyzar said the government had budgeted as much as Rp 5.9 trillion ($690 million) for the E-KPT project.
He said the new cards would be distributed for free, and that citizens would only need to register at their local subdistrict office to obtain the card.
It will take about two weeks from registration for the new card to be issued, he said.
He added that the new cards’ adoption of the Single Identity Number program was also a sign of progress.
Under the system, all Indonesian citizens will have only one identification number until they die. The government has said the system will lead to greater administrative order and, most important, avoid IDs being duplicated or misused.
Some terrorists and terrorist suspects have been found carrying multiple identity cards listing falsified information.
Raydonnyzar said he was confident the E-KTP would also reach those living in remote areas lacking electricity.
“In order to provide all citizens throughout the country with an E-KTP, we are going to send out officers equipped with laptops and electric generators that will then be used to verify the information of citizens,” he said. “We will also record their fingerprints.”
He also dismissed rumors that private information would be sold to businesses.
“The information that the government will sell the citizen database to private institutions is not correct at all,” he said.