The government is expected to start issuing single multi-application smart cards for citizens to be used for various public services by early 2014, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.

The smart cards will be used as identification cards and also for public health insurance.

At a later stage, the cards can be used for distributing government subsidies, whether for fuel or other commodities, ICT Minister Azzam Sleit said at a recent meeting with the press.

The smart cards will be financed by the grant extended to Jordan by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and the project will be on the list of projects in the 2014 state budget, the minister said.

“A committee has already set the required technical specifications for the smart cards, and we expect to start issuing these multipurpose cards to citizens in early 2014,” he noted.

“This long-awaited project is part of the government’s efforts to improve the e-services provided to citizens and will be convenient and user-friendly for all,” Sleit said.

He added that a committee was formed including all stakeholders in the public sector to revisit the e-government programme and look into means of speeding up its implementation.

“The committee will come up with a vision on how best to move forward with the programme and assess its points of strength and weakness,” the minister said.

Some 88 e-government services are currently available for users and around 19 new e-services will be introduced in 2014, Sleit said, noting that finances for the new services will be included in the 2014 state budget.

The government formally inaugurated the e-government programme in 2006 with the intention of streamlining bureaucracy and enhancing access to the Internet in rural areas.

The implementation of the project and the introduction of new services were halted on several occasions due to lack of funds.