The Ministry of Social Protection, with support from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), has sanitised its database as part of the process to digitise the old age pension service within the coastland regions.
The digitisation project will see information technology being utilised to eliminate pension books, and establish a system where senior citizens will be allowed to use their National Identification (ID) cards to uplift their pension. This digitisation of the pension process will be in full effect by December, according to Government, yesterday.
During an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, explained that the current pension system has many deficiencies. “When I look at the system there is too much paper and papers travelling, not in a systemic way, it is not travelling in a secure environment, coming from officers all across the country, and there is not a proper system in place to process the information, and so we have what you may term a mess,” Minister Lawrence explained.
This new system will also ease the burden of workers having to write and retrieve information by going through papers.
The Social Protection Ministry has engaged the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to ensure that the two agencies can collectively run a pilot of this electronic project. It is Minister Lawrence’s hope that by the end of June, a trial system will be tested.
“We are hoping that by the end of June or early July we can be able to run a trial system within a region to see how that goes and then we will take it to the other region, one by one so that next year when we are going to deal with the payment of pensioners we will be able to do so on the coastland, electronically. It means that persons will no longer be issued with a book … once that process is done we will able to see who cashed their pensions and we will be able to see in real time how many pensioners received pensions in a particular place,” Minister Lawrence further explained.
Minister Lawrence said that the Ministry will also be able to capture those persons who are receiving money on behalf of a particular pensioner. The initiative will also see greater accountability within the pension system, and probation officers will have more time do more field work and conduct more visitations.
However, in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine, where the communities are difficult to reach, Minister Lawrence said that the Ministry will conduct an assessment in these regions to determine what other type of electronic programme will work best for those areas.
In the past, there have been reports of widespread fraud in the distribution of old age pensions with instances found of “ghost” pensioners receiving payments.
Millions of dollars are estimated to have been lost as a result.
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