Liberia Governance and Economic Management Support Project
2011-2016 || U.S. Agency for International Development
The USAID/Liberia Governance and Economic Management Support Project (USAID-GEMS) is a five-year program that supports building the capacity of targeted Government of Liberia Ministries and Agencies to improve economic governance. Deloitte is a sub-contractor to IBI International on this program, which builds on a previous USAID-funded project (GEMAP - Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program) that focused on capacity building for revenue-oriented ministries. The new capacity building program of USAID-GEMS has a broader reach than GEMAP, as it continues to build on revenue-oriented ministries, like the Ministry of Finance. It also supports direct technical and managerial capacity building and formal classroom trainings. The main goals of USAID-GEMS are to increase transparency and accountability, increase efficiency and revenue, reduce expenditures, and limit opportunities for corruption.
A major issue in Liberia is the lack of accessibility and how it has affected workers’ collection of their paychecks. A shortage of financial services and institutions in major cities has created long journeys for many government employees when picking up their paychecks, which disrupts the services and productivity of these workers.
To confront the lack of paycheck accessibility in Liberia, USAID-GEMS, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, have piloted the transfer of government employee salaries directly to the workers via cell-phones, also called ‘mobile money.’ The effective pilot has reduced the gap in costs for workers having to travel to receive their paychecks. The next step for USAID-GEMS is to assist the Department of Revenue by developing an interface between ASYCUDA (automated system for customs data) and TAS (central tax administration system) to help facilitate payment and data sharing before the two systems.
Mobile money is increasingly being looked at as a means to facilitate financial transactions, including payments to and from the government. It could feasibly improve Liberian government payments efficiencies and effectiveness. Mobile money is ripe with potential to offer convenience to consumers, banking to the unbanked, new growth avenues to mobile carriers, differentiation to financial institutions, and loyal customers to merchants. The Governance and Economic Management Support (USAID-GEMS) program along with the Central Bank of Liberia plans to use mobile money to help the Liberian people by reducing risk through avoiding the use of cash and streamlining the salary payment process.
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