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World Bank gives South Sudan $10M for biometrics to ID govt payroll thieves

World Bank gives South Sudan $10M for biometrics to ID govt payroll thieves

A project funded by the World Bank to help clean up South Sudan’s public service payroll has officially rolled out.

Officials in the war-torn country say the biometric payments project aligns with the vision of the government in stamping out corruption from the public service and facilitating payments at point-of-sale, local outlet Eye Radio reports.

South Sudan has been struggling with a weak economy trigged by several crises including corruption since it became an independent country in July 2011.

The project is reported to cost $34 million and will be implemented for a period of four years. The World Bank will reportedly contribute $10 million of this amount.

At its launch in the capital Juba recently, Public Service and Human Resource Development Minister Dak Duop Bichiok said by integrating the biometric verification system with the country’s payroll, “we aim to mitigate the risk and unethical payroll activities, particularly the control of potential ghost workers.”

Bichiok also expressed gratitude to other government ministries and the World Bank for supporting the launch of the project which he termed an “important reform” intended to improve financial management, accountability and transparency.

Speaking about the project, the country representative of the World Bank for South Sudan, David Santo, noted that the project seeks to establish a new biometric database of all public servants in the country for efficient management of salaries.

Vice President for Service Cluster Hussein Abdel-Bagi also drummed the importance of the project, but highlighted that it must include all government entities such as the national police, army, and other organized security forces in the country.

Meanwhile, shortly after launching the system, the government called on all ministries, departments and agencies to fully embrace the project as a way of encouraging the funders to go ahead with their support.

Bichiok said, as noted in another report by Eye Radio, that the World Bank has pledged to provide about half of the financing for the equipment if the country meets certain conditions, one of which is full adherence to the biometric payroll system.

“If we are for this country, we must implement this biometric program so that our people will get their allowances from the World Bank, the same way they are supporting Somalia and other countries,” said Bichiok, as quoted.

The International Organization for Migration has also been using biometrics to deliver aid to the vulnerable in South Sudan.

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