NLGFC touts e-payments in social protection initiatives 

National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) says a harmonised electronic payment service for social protection initiatives will reduce costs and risks associated with manual transfers of cash from Councils to beneficiaries. 

Electronic payment specialist for NLGFC, Jane Chidengu said this in Kasungu on Thursday during an extraordinary district council meeting.

Briefing councillors, chiefs and interest groups on the introduction of electronic payments for Social Cash Transfer and Climate Smart Public Works programmes beneficiaries in the district, Chidengu said a lot of resources will be saved from the payment shift as everything will be done digitally hence reduce work related delays, costs and risks. 

Chidengu: it’s a high standard service

She said: “Government is now transitioning from manual payments to electronic payments for its social protection beneficiaries under social cash transfer and climate smart public works programmes. This is in line with government’s agenda of digitising all government to people payments.

“Chiefs and civil servants receive their money through banks or other electronic means. Similarly, we are transitioning the payments of all social protection programs from manual to electronic and beneficiaries in Kasungu will receive their money through NBS Bank and the money will go direct into their phones.”

She said the previous arrangement in which NLGFC would send money to councils so that they make payments to beneficiaries was inefficient as it had issues concerning operational costs, risks, fraud and delays in payments.

Chidengu said government is rolling out the electronic payment so that there is an improvement in the entire paying process, pay on time and reduce risks of physically travelling with cash. 

“The new system is a high standard service in regard to convenience, dignity of recipients, speed and inclusion. 

“We are not removing responsibility from councils but we just want payments to go to intended recipients on time and reduce other risks. Council’s responsibility will remain. They have to strengthen their case management activities and resolve issues that will be there and update information for recipients. Our only role will be transferring the money to the service provider, in this case NBS bank,” Chidengu said.

Principal Social Welfare Officer for Kasungu, Victor Nyirenda, described the payment shift as a positive development that will help the council save resources.

Nyirenda: we are saving

Nyirenda said: “It is a plus to our side as a district because when we are doing manual payments, we encounter several challenges in terms of mobility, equipment and security. Our load has been reduced and we will effectively do case management because that will be the only main activity that we will be concentrating on. 

“The electronic payment mode is spreading across the country. Our donors know the work load that we have, and the resources that we require to do the manual payments so through this new system, we are saving a lot because issues on manpower, security will not be there. We are looking forward that this should roll out in the shortest period of time.”

Kasungu has a total of 36, 726 beneficiaries under social cash transfer and climate smart public works programmes.

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