Senior citizens who are entitled to a bi-monthly stipend from the State have now gone for six months without the allowance, which has accumulated to arrears of Sh12,000 for each of the beneficiaries.
The government has attributed the delay to an ongoing update of the payment system for the cash transfer scheme that was launched a year ago.
State Department of Social Protection principal secretary Nelson Marwa in an interview yesterday said the Treasury will begin disbursement of the cash after updating account details of the beneficiaries. The government had given a similar promise in January after the payout delayed by four months.
“A payroll for the beneficiaries with bank accounts has already been forwarded to the Treasury for disbursement of funds. We are likely to begin paying the money next week,” said Mr Marwa.
Senior citizens will each receive the entire Sh12,000 arrears.
The stipend, considered a non-contributory social pension for those aged over 70, will be limited to beneficiaries who have opened bank accounts.
The senior citizens are entitled to Sh2,000 per month, which is paid every two months in a lump sum of Sh4,000.
The Social Protection Department, which is mandated to oversee implementation of the enhanced Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT) programme, says the scheme currently covers 523,000 people.
Kenya Commercial Bank #ticker:KCB , Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY , Co-operative Bank #ticker:COOP and Post Bank — have been selected to disburse the transfers.
The last payment was made in September for the July to August cycle.
“The beneficiaries will now receive payments for the September-October, November-December and January-February payment cycles all at once,” said Mr Marwa.
Delays in releasing the funds have been blamed on the switch to an account-based model where funds will be sent directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts as opposed to the old card-based system where banks relied on customer verification documents — mainly ID card and passport — and signatures to confirm their identities.
In the account-based model, the intended beneficiaries are required to register their biometrics such as fingerprints with banks for use in withdrawal of the stipend and guard against fraud.
“Now there is no room for fraud or cartels because the money is wired direct to the senior citizens’ bank accounts,” said Mr Marwa.
The Treasury allocated Sh6.7 billion to kick-start the programme in January 2018, covering the first half of the year to June. The scheme under the Inua Jamii plan was a key plank of the Jubilee election campaign promises.
The ‘Inua Jamii 70 years and above cash transfer programme’ is an enhancement of the previous cash transfer initiated in 2012 targeting individuals aged above 65 and living in extreme poverty.
The cash transfer comes with a free medical cover through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
The government has, however, not yet made good its promise to also pay the NHIF premiums.