Poverty Ministry to introduce new social grant payment

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has designed a new payment system for the Universal Basic Income Grant program, to enhance fiscal prudency and accountability.

Minister Zephania Kameeta announced this on Thursday during his ministry’s budget motivation speech in the National Assembly (NA).

Kameeta said the new payment system, Ministry Controlled Smart Card Accounts, will be implemented during the 2015/16 financial year and N.dollars 1.5 million is required for the implementation of the exercise.

The ministry currently uses three institutions, The Bank of Namibia, Namibia Post Office (Nampost) and Epupa Investment Technology, for the payment of social grants to registered beneficiaries, for which N.dollars 45.5 million of the ministry’s operational budget to cover the costs of those services has been budgeted.

He however did not explain whether the three systems currently used for paying the social grant will be phased out or will remain in place.

Kameeta noted that in cognizance of the relationship between poverty eradication and wealth redistribution, raised by the President in his State of the Nation Address, his ministry would with urgency initiate the national dialogue on wealth redistribution and the revised Universal Basic Income Grant.

The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare’s budget allocation for the 2015/2016 financial year is N.dollars 2 715 173 000.

He also explained that in line with Government’s commitment to the provision of social grants to the most vulnerable of society and the increase of the pensioners’ grant from N.dollars 600 to N.dollars 1 000, that 84 per cent of the ministry’s allocation in the 2015/16 National Budget will go towards the payment of social grants.

The minister explained that the Ministry Controlled Smart Card Accounts system will also be implemented in this financial year to accelerate the decentralization of administration.

“The need for the decentralization of the administration of the social assistance function cannot be overemphasized. Therefore the ministry has embarked on efforts to work with Governors and Regional Councilors to decentralize the administration of social assistance, to bring Government closer to the people,” he said.

Kameeta noted that the ministry however needs funds for the activity of decentralization and requires N.dollars 2.5 million during the current financial year.

The Ministry of Poverty has three programs that it seeks to execute during this current financial year, which are Coordination, Administration and Support Services; Provision of Social Assistance to the Most Vulnerable; and the Food Bank.

The minister said provision has also been made for new offices to be opened at Sesfontein, Okangwati, Otjinene, Epukiro, Tallismanus, Tsukwe, Maltahohe, Onandjokwe, Omuthiya, Kongola, Mbagani and Ngona during the current financial year.

He explained that for those offices to be opened, the ministry requires more than N.dollars 13.8 million.