THE FIRST registry office to be created under the Papua New Guinea National Identity (PNGNID) project has been opened in Mendi, in the nation’s Southern Highlands Province.

The government aims to get 7 million Papua New Guineans to register as part of the plan, which will be used to track basic population levels in different regions of the nation, in order to improve development planning.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said governments needed to know where people were living in order to better provide services.

“If a village is growing we will need more roads, more police and more teachers for that area,” he said.

“This program will make it easier for us to plan government services because we will know when villages and towns are growing.”

Another aspect of the program is the launch of a multipurpose identity card that will contain personal information such as date of birth, address, sex, occupation plus a photograph and fingerprints.

Mr O’Neill said the card would be used when opening a bank account, accessing free education and health services and registering to vote.

“You must go and register to be able to vote and candidates must encourage people to go and register,” he said.

“People can get ID’s and the country can have a good election process.”

The registry office in Mendi is the first to be opened in a province with many more coming online in the months ahead as part of the National Identification Program.

This will bring the services of the civil registry office to the provincial level.