MFS have been playing an important role in disbursing government funds in different sectors
Mobile financial services (MFS) can play a crucial role in ensuring transparency in use of public funds by refunding undisbursed government allowance, identifying false beneficiaries, transparency and outreach, speakers said at a webinar on Saturday.
MFS has been in the limelight, especially, considering the way they have been enabling financial inclusion, said the Posts and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar at the webinar titled “Disbursement of Government Allowances: Use of Mobile Phone Technology,” organized by the Telecom Reporters Network Bangladesh (TRNB).
According to Jabbar, the government has been promoting electronic money and is not interested in printed currency anymore.
“Mobile phones are the most-used tools in the country in its journey towards Digital Bangladesh. I believe that day is not far when we will be able to become a cashless economy,” he added.
Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed said the prime minister was committed to keeping the economy running during the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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“With her guidance, we have started to disburse the social safety net funds digitally with companies like Nagad. And now, the rightful beneficiaries in remote places are getting the allowance without any hassle,” he said.
MFS have been playing an important role in disbursing government funds in different sectors with Nagad leading the way in disbursing 75% of the allowances under the social safety net.
According to the General Secretary of TNRB Samir Kumar Dey’s keynote presentation, Nagad has helped in reducing the cost of government’s disbursement to Tk7 for sending Tk1,000, which was earlier Tk22 for the same amount.
Tanvir A Mishuk, managing Director of Nagad, said: “For the first time in the country's history, we have a refund case of undisbursed government allowance by Nagad. The false beneficiaries can now be identified and we have refunded more than Tk385 crore to the Bangladesh Bank. Even the central bank had to take time to process the refunds as there was no such precedence,” he said.
Although MFS in the country started 12 years back, the disbursement of public funds started with Nagad, he added.
Director General of Social Services Department Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said one of the key issues was beneficiaries’ eligibility and how to reach them. In both cases, digitalization helped and transparency is ensured now.
Md Yusuf Ali, Project Director (Additional Secretary) of the Primary Education Stipend Project, said with Nagad, the transparency of the funds was ensured due to the process of upgrading.
“Earlier, we used to do digital fund transfer for such disbursement provided by the banks. But when Nagad came, we had to move to electronic fund transfer (EFT), and that made all the difference. So, with EFT, the fund now is transferred via Bangladesh Bank and we can see the actual disbursement amount,” he explained.
Former Secretary General of Association of Mobile Operators Bangladesh (AMTOB) TIM Nurul Kabir and President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Syed Almas Kabir also spoke at the event, among others.