19 October 2018

Liberia: Govt Defends Controversial Mobile Money Payment Scheme

Monrovia — The government of Liberia on Thursday October 18, 2018 announced that the new system of Mobile Money Payment being rolled out to spending entities is to intended to reduce cost in getting salary across the country to employees.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information Regular Press Briefing, the Comptroller and Accountant General of the Republic of Liberia Janga Augustus Kowo said government will save more money when the service is fully adopted and implemented through voluntary enrollment of employees across spending entities.

The Mobile Money Unit within the Department of Fiscal Affairs was created to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency in salary payment process, Kowo said.

"Government will save on cost to print checks for employees in the rural parts of the country, reduce spending on monthly allowances/ per diems for staff going in the counties, as well as reduce transportation cost which includes gasoline for vehicles, wear and tear of vehicles and reduce spending on accommodation associated with the current salary payment process."

But there have been concerns about the new system with some civil servants contending that it would cost them additional service charge and create additional expenses on their already small income.

However, the Comptroller and Accountant General said the service will only affect the 20 percent Liberian Dollars portion of civil servants salaries for those that are on special allowance.

He clarified that employees will enroll into the system voluntarily, adding that the process has already been tested on teachers and health workers and that it is effective and avoids the many constrains.

Kowo said: "This service has proven to be very effective in ensuring that over 4,000 teachers and health workers are paid in a timely fashion thus avoiding them the constraints of traveling very long distances to cash their pay checks as well as avoiding their prolonged absences from the class rooms and health centers."

Also, the Mobile Money Payment System, according to Kowo, will help civil servants have access to their money real time even beyond odd hours, purchase LEC tokens, shopping at various supermarkets, buy airtime, pay DSTV bills, transfer money to families and loved ones to pay school fees.

The service, Kowo added, is an alternative or optional mode of salary payment to Civil Servants and not compulsory, adding, "It is absolutely not mandatory."

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