As elsewhere the government is taking to digitalization wherever possible. It was only expected that payments to over two million public servants would take the digital route. And it has. The Integrated Budget and Accounting System (IBAS or known more technically by the department concerned as iBAS++) introduced has been coming up with several good sides, foremost being the early disposal of pay bills and other payments. However, as with every new step there would be a problem or two. The same has happened with the integrated system. Some contributors to provident fund (PF) have complained of no-show of money in their PF accounts as the digital returns contrived. One person has complained of 'losing' as much as three million taka, his whole life's savings. Understandably, the entries of his payment were not done correctly. This is where machines can go wrong. Hopefully the top man in the audit and accounts hierarchy, Mr Muslim Chowdhury, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), as reported by the Financial Express, has assured that all mistakes will be corrected. He also said that whenever a new system is introduced, it takes time to be adopted. As things stand, this would allay the fears and worries of any as per the top audit officer's assurance.
There is no doubt, special care is required in case of PF as it is a man's whole lifesaving. There may be occasional lapses on entries, but this cannot be a regular practice. As the CAG has assured the officialdom, in the first stages of integrated system, these are ordinary mistakes and can be very well rectified. In this connection, one may refer to the pension scheme for elderly that is now doled out to millions of people. Errors are a greater possibility there, since the registers may not be regularly updated. The Department of Social Services (DSS) needs to be equipped enough to deal with the huge number of recipients. Besides, rural banking may also be not up to the task. Although the old age pension programme is a benevolent step and has grown since its start nearly a quarter of a century ago, its management requires no less care than the PF of the civil employees. In the fiscal year 2019-20, 4.4 million elderly people came under its purview getting Tk 500 every month from a total budget outlay of Tk 2,640 crore. Although everybody gets it in his or her bank account, the whole process is a big task for the social services personnel and bankers.
Coming back to the integrated system, it is hoped that as per the assurance of the CAG, aggrieved people would visit his office and come up with feedbacks on the system. The system's good sides cannot be overlooked. In yesteryears preparing and getting the monthly pay bill was a worrisome issue. Now that has gone. It is only understandable that while inserting data from hand-written paper to the software mistakes could crop up. Some people as mentioned earlier had their savings not taken care of at all. It is hoped that as the system gets a greater run, mistakes will come down to the minimum. People dealing with the software need to be extra vigilant. As the country enters the digital age, the new integrated system could only be welcome.
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