The disbursement of various social safety net allowances through Mobile Financial Services (MFS) like Nagad has ensured optimum transparency in the overall disbursement process alongside reducing hassles of the beneficiaries, said stakeholders and beneficiaries.
Nagad, the MFS of the Bangladesh Post Office, has been playing an important role in this regard towards ensuring transparency in the disbursement process of allowances through its digital operations.
The mobile financial arm of the Post Office is much ahead than other MFS operators in the country in terms of providing Prime Minister's Eid gifts to the helpless and distressed people as well as providing financial support to those people who are being affected in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The allowances being disbursed through Nagad include old-age allowance, widow allowance and various financial supports to people by the government.
Talking to BSS, Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar said that there has been an existence of middlemen in the past for disbursing allowances, but the introduction of the digital method in disbursing allowances through MFS has largely minimized the influence of those.
"It was an epoch-making decision of the Prime Minister to disburse allowances through MFS. The marginal people are now being benefitted and it's a good thing for the country.......undoubtedly, this is a one-step forward towards building "Sonar Bangla".
The Minister said there are some people who try to cheat the innocent social safety net beneficiaries, but the expansion of the coverage of the MFS in disbursing allowances would check the incidents of forgery.
Jabbar also stressed the need for creating more awareness among the beneficiaries in receiving their allowances through digital methods to avert hassles and ensure transparency adding that he has already directed Nagad to pursue such a thing.
While paying field visits to Delduar and Korotia of Tangail district, beneficiaries of different social safety net allowances said that their hassles in getting allowances have gone since they now receive allowances through Nagad.
Deputy Director of the Department of Social Services Office in Tangail Md Shah Alam said that some 2,11,893 beneficiaries in Tangail are getting their social safety net allowances through Nagad with ease and comfort having a success rate of 99.96 percent with no such incident of forgery.
"The allowance recipients are now satisfied as they can cash out their allowances at nearby Nagad agents without rushing to the bank," he added.
Assistant Director of the Department of Social Services Office in Tangail Md Habibur Rahman Khan and Delduar Upazila Social Welfare officer Md Mobarak Hossain, Delduar Sadar Union Parishad Chairman Abu Taher Bablu were present there in Delduar.
Md Shahjada, a blind man in Delduar, said that he can now cash out his government allowance from a nearby Nagad agent shop with ease and comfort instead of going to the bank. "Earlier, I had to bring someone else to accompany me to the bank branch for receiving the allowance and it was troublesome. But, now I can easily cash out my amount through using Nagad."
Md Jamal, an elderly male of Karotia said earlier he had to rush to the bank for receiving the allowance amount. "But, now there is no rush as I can easily cash out the amount at a nearby Nagad agent shop."
According to the official data, the government has disbursed around Taka 5,885 crore under the social safety net programmes through MFS operators and agent banking in the last fiscal year (FY21) where Nagad has disbursed about 75 percent of the amount as old-age allowance, widow allowance, allowances for the people with special needs or allowances for the underprivileged, and allowances for the students with special needs.
In the last fiscal year (FY21), Nagad disbursed financial assistance to some 2.5 crore beneficiaries for about 8 crore times with utmost transparency while it has also been expediting the existing social safety net allowance disbursement process.
Earlier in 2020, some 50 lakh families received PM's financial support of Taka 2,500 each as Eid gifts where some 17 lakh families received such support through Nagad. In continuation of this, some 33.39 lakh families received PM's Eid gifts in 2021 where some 15 lakh families received such gifts through Nagad.
During the entire process, Nagad bore the cash out charge of Taka 15 for per transaction of the beneficiaries.
Besides, Nagad also distributed government's financial support to some 300 educational institutions under the Technical and Madrasah Education Division, to more than 8,000 teachers, staff and students, to some 25,000 fishermen and some 50,000 people involved in animal husbandry affected during the pandemic.