The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) is confident the payroll of national service personnel is now almost clear of ´ghost-names´ three months into payment of service allowances through the e-zwich payment platform.
Since February 20 this year, the National Service Secretariat (NSS) has in collaboration with GhIPSS been paying service personnel allowance through the e-zwich as part of efforts to rid the service´s pay structure of duplicated names and non-existing people.
So far, about 38,000 service personnel out of 43,000 have been paid their January and February allowances, with payment to 5,000 others blocked due to some discrepancies and errors with their bio and transactional data.
The CEO of GhIPSS Archie Hesse, in explaining reports that some of the service personnel have not received their allowances since January this year said: "Unfortunately, because the capturing of the names, Unique Sequence Numbers, National Service Scheme number etc is done manually, there are bound to be errors. And this is what we have found to be some of the issues that we are working hard to address. "From my understanding, from a data list of roughly 43,000 in January, 38,000 of them were clean and they have all been paid. However, 5,000 or so have some issues which include transpositional errors in names, duplicated Unique Sequence Numbers, multiple use of National Service Scheme numbers, and records with no Unique Sequence Numbers.
"Our system sees these as errors and, under the circumstances, unfortunately we will not pay that particular national service personnel. The onus then rests on us to communicate to the national service secretariat for onward communication to the regions and districts, and the onus will then be shifted to the individual who will be informed to come and rectify the records. As soon as the records are rectified, we will quickly make the payments. It´s a decision that payment must not be effected irrespective; other than that, we will compromise the process.
"So, roughly, the number of individuals that have not been paid is less than 10% per month. However, we are quite happy that we do have clean data. So far as we are concerned, if for the first and second months in a national initiative we have less than 10%, then things are going very well. "It´s our aim and hope that by the end of the first quarter of this year (when March´s payment comes), we will have nearly 100% data so that we can periodically pay. Thereafter, the only people who will not be paid will be individuals who were not at post and therefore have not been flagged to be paid."
The decision to pay national service personnel through the e-zwich followed a recent a GH¢7.9million financial fraud scandal, in which officials of the NSS paid monies to a fraudulent account and accessed it later, forcing the board and management of the Scheme to adopt the e-zwich payment platform in a bid to eliminate ´ghost-names´ from its payroll through a robust public sector reform agenda.
The e-zwich is the brand-name for the common platform, the National Switch that links the payment systems of all licensed banks and non-bank financial institutions -- e.g. savings and loans companies, credit unions, money transfer institutions, and rural banks in Ghana.
As a smart-card payment system, the e-zwich is managed by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System as an innovative method for improving accessibility to banking and retail services in Ghana. The e-zwich system offers deposit-taking financial institutions a platform that enables them to inter operate. This enables e-zwich cardholders to perform banking and retail transactions at the outlets of other e-zwich financial institutions, and e-zwich point of sales terminals.
It is understood the Controller and Accountant Generals Department (CAGD) is closely monitoring the execution of a payment pact between the GhIPPS and the NSS, which could pave the way for salaries and wages of all public and civil servants to be paid through the e-zwich as government continues to search for an effective and efficient way to eliminate ´ghost-names´ from the public payroll.
Mr. Hesse said national service personnel who are at post and have not received their allowances should call at their district offices to rectify their records for payment to be effected immediately, and assured that GhIPSS and NSS are working hard to ensure that all backlogs are cleared.