OPINION

Cash transfers through bank accounts will reduce crime, grow satellite towns

 

For the first time, more than 1 Million Kenya’s poor orphans, vulnerable children and older citizens certified as true beneficiaries have cash in their bank accounts.

In a period usually characterised with outright theft from unsuspecting beneficiaries, who have mastered the art of taking advantage to loot from the vulnerable citizens-the elderly, orphans and persons with disability, this is a great milestone.

Previous reports highlight increased cases of mugging during physical distribution of cash transfers, especially from poor elderly beneficiaries and recently a new breed swindlers who use credentials of dead beneficiaries to get the Sh 2,000 monthly stipend.

But the ball game has changed so fast as government moves to streamline cash stipend distribution to make it effective in an attempt to achieve social transformation and boost quality of life of its people.

Earlier in the year, the government initiated an audit exercise on the list of one million beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme with a bigger aim of removing names of those who have died.

In this plan, all beneficiaries on the registry were given up to May 18, 2019 to open bank accounts especially for 54,000 who had not managed to do so earlier and 57,000 who had disputed bank account records.

The ultimate target was to ensure only the real beneficiaries get their stipends to help them fight poverty and live a dignified life.

Following these interventions, beneficiaries now have better choices of transactions that allows them to withdraw amounts, they only need at any time anywhere.

It means beneficiaries and caregivers can access the payment at their own convenience without crowding as previously observed in past government backed payouts.

This new development makes it difficult for supposed swindlers to track transactions of beneficiaries and its hoped incidences of mugging and associated attacks will go down or end completely.

Security of access to cash at bank has also been tightened with the introduction of biometrics that only detects beneficiaries’ credentials. All withdrawals are now limited to those beneficiaries listed in the cleaned up national registry.

Under the new payment model, dubbed Choice, beneficiaries also have a flexible timeline over which they can access payments, unlike in physical distribution that exposed them to risk of theft and pressure to spend the cash within a few days.

With these safe controls, satellite towns especially in rural areas will start roaring into more positive activities with controlled cash flowing within specific areas of distribution to boost their growth.

The release of Sh 8.56 Billion will go a long way to sustain increased economic activities and breath new life to beneficiaries until the next payment cycle.

Over the next few months, we expect to see schools recording high attendance with enhanced ability to pay school fees. Increased activities in local savings groups, purchase of stock and investment in farm inputs.

Consequently, with better investments, households will be able to manage risks and lead a stress-free life. It should bring a wry smile to the older citizens benefiting from these cash transfers expected to have more feelings of happiness.

A 2018 World Population Data Sheet from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), revealed that by 2050 the share of the population aged 65 or older will reach seven per cent up from three per cent currently.

That of children’s aged between 0 to 14 will have fallen by 12 percent to 29 percent from 41 per cent.

This is a red alarm over initiatives and policies that needs review and strategic implementation to urgently protect the economy from an impending social burden.

However, such efforts by department of Social protection that ensures cash reaches those in need is a step in the right direction that will go a long way in addressing the looming economic and social crisis.

Sustained efforts to support the most vulnerable in the society will give the country’s social economic blueprint, Vision 2030, the much-needed boost to reach our aspiration of creating a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life by 2030.

 

 

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