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Kenya, Nigerian state turn to biometrics to halt public sector payroll fraud

Kenya, Nigerian state turn to biometrics to halt public sector payroll fraud

Kenya’s Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria says the government plans to chase away “ghosts” from its public service through a biometric count of all public servants.

In comments to the press this week, Kuria said the decision comes after the government realized that its civil service is “full of ghosts,” The Star reports.

The official said the biometric registration process will enable the government to determine the exact number of fraudulent claims on the payroll of the state as well as those of county governments.

According to Kuria, the government has been spending huge sums of money not only on “ghost” civil servants such as teachers, but also on ghost students and ghost elderly citizens who get certain social benefits they are not entitled to.

The minister mentioned 900,000 as the figure representing the number of people receiving payments from the public payroll, and announced that an audit has also been programmed.

The announcement by the Public Service Ministry of the imminent biometric registration of all civil servants comes weeks after the Public Service Commission reported that the country’s public service was bloated, with more than 20,000 persons flagged as ghost workers.

Gombe recruits workers to manage biometric attendance machines

In an attempt to reduce payroll fraud on the other side of the continent, the Northeastern Nigerian State of Gombe is implementing a biometric attendance system to accompany the state government’s efforts in identifying irregular workers who continue to earn underserved salaries.

State Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, according to PM Express, emphasized the importance of the system recently during a one-day workshop to train personnel recruited to man the machines.

Under the program, about 4,000 biometric attendance machines are to be installed in all state and local government offices.

Speaking through a representative, Yahaya said the biometric attendance program is to monitor effective presence of civil servants at work. He said the state and local governments were suffocating under the weight of wages claimed by workers who are hardly at work.

“We have no ill intentions on the implementation of this Biometric Attendance System. Our sole aim is to have a highly effective and efficient civil service in Gombe, one that fosters productivity and drives the development and prosperity outlined in our development plan,” said the Governor, as quoted.

South Sudan is implementing a biometric system, through a World Bank-supported digital transformation project, to track down public service payroll thieves.

Ghana has also used biometric audits to sieve out illegal salary earners, with the government at some point, making enrollment for the biometric Ghana Card mandatory for all civil servants.

Over the years, there have been calls, especially from institutions such as the World Bank, for African governments to implement robust transparency, anti-corruption and accountability systems to counter public service payroll fraud.

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