‘No Biometric ID, No Pay’

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Mr. Kowo (L) with Mr. Nagbe at yesterday's press conference in Monrovia.

– GoL wiping out ‘ghost employees’ from payroll using biometric authentication 

In an effort to ensure transparency and ending waste in its payment system, the Government of Liberia has decided to move towards what it called biometric payment system in the country.

The exercise, according to National Identification Registry Executive Director J. Tiah Nagbe, is aimed at ensuring efficiency and the fight against the infiltration of ghost names on various payrolls—across government entities.

It can be recalled that the issue of ghost names has been one of the major problems that national governments, both past, and present, have been faced with as it relates to the fight against corruption in public places.

Mr. Nagbe, who spoke on Monday, November 20, at his Congo Town office, told journalists that the meeting focused mainly on the ongoing biometric registration of Government employees.

“This is a very important Government initiative that could lead to millions of dollars in savings, so we all need to pay keen attention to it. As you may know, we started the biometric enrollment of Government employees on March 13, 2018, beginning with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning,” he said.

This effort, Nagbe said, which he named Project Clean Payroll was part of the Government’s 150-day plan.

“Even though we made a lot of progress during the 150-day period, we could not complete the entire workforce of over 70 thousand employees spread over the entire country due to financing challenges. In spite of these challenges, we have kept with the work,” he added.

Nagbe reported that the entity has enrolled 37,752 employees, a number which represents 50.3 percent of the estimated 75,000 people that work for the government.

“We have covered 79 institutions in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of Government, and we have visited over 200 locations across the country,” he said.

Nagbe added that the NIR has also provided sufficient opportunity for any legitimate employee to register and get a national identification number.

According to him, some employees went forth but their names were on the list provided by the Finance Ministry. “We have now updated our list and taken additional steps to capture all employees who can provide proof of employment. As you may know, we cannot carry on with this exercise forever, because we have several other projects to undertake.”

Therefore, the NIR has reached an agreement with the Ministry of Finance to close the project for enrollment of Government employees by December 31, 2018.

This means that anyone who has not registered with the NIR and therefore does not have a national identification number, will not receive salary or allowance payment from the Government beginning January 2019, he maintained.

Nagbe said, “to serve the remaining legitimate employees who did not register, we have made special arrangements, particularly for those residing in Montserrado County, including the headquarters of various government institutions.”

He also said that the project is a very critical national effort that demands the support of all well-meaning Liberians. Payroll cleaning, Nagbe said, is part of the fight against waste and abuse of resources because it ensures that we are paying only those who work for the government, not ghosts.

“We expect a lot of money — millions of dollars — to be saved from this process, and that is money that can go towards other pro-poor projects to promote prosperity and development in line with President Weah’s agenda,” Nagbe said.

Janga A. Kowo, Comptroller and Accountant General of Liberia, who also spoke at the press conference, expressed gratitude to Mr. Nagbe and his able team for making sure that all Liberians register for the biometric identification card.

Kowo, who used the occasion to encourage government employees for the ID, said the NIR wants to ensure that all government entities are free of corruption because it is the ID card that will be used to pay staffs in Liberia.

He said by January 2019, the government will partner with the NIR to ensure that all its employees on the payroll will have a national ID number.

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