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State goes electronic in social cash transfer

KABANSHI

STEVEN MVULA, Parliament
IN KEEPING up with modern financial transaction trends, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare is introducing the use of visa cards as beneficiaries of the ambitious K250 million social cash transfer programme will be accessing their funds at automated teller machines (ATMs) and designated agents.
Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare Emerine Kabanshi told Parliament in ministerial statement yesterday that the scale-up of the social cash transfer programme resulted in an unprecedented 700 percent increase in the budget allocation to the programme and increasing the number of benefiting districts from the current 50 to 78 countrywide.
Ms Kabanshi said it is expected that over 242,000 households will benefit from the social cash transfer scheme in the next six months from the current 180,000 households.
She said the current payment mechanism is manual and uses teachers and health personnel to make payments to the beneficiaries.
“In order to enhance safety, reliability, reduce fiduciary risk and improve accessibility to beneficiaries, the ministry is now at a point of contracting a payment service provider. A financial institution has been identified and what remains is the signing of the contract,” Ms Kabanshi said.
She said the new payment system will initially be piloted in Eastern, Lusaka and Central provinces.
The manual system will continue in areas where the new system may not be able to implement.
Ms Kabanshi said the ministry is considering an option of a mobile cash transit payment system for the programme in the provinces not covered by the new payment system.
“Government remains committed to scaling up the programme to the rest of the nation as it has proved to be an effective tool for reducing extreme poverty among the vulnerable population by accelerating social development and transforming their lives in the communities,” she said.
Ms Kabanshi said beneficiaries who are the poor of the poorest receive a stipend of K70.
She further said it will cost Government K42 million to manage the K250 million in a period of five years.



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