June 29, 2020
A personal experience almost forty years ago is one of the factors driving Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell’s push for digital and other reform in the delivery of social assistance in The Bahamas.
“In the 1970s I was a student at the William Gordon Primary School and for some reason I had to utilize the School Lunch Programme. After the third day, I refused to go back because they placed the sandwich in brown paper and they gave you a Borden’s Drink and so everybody knew that you got lunch from the Lunch Programme and kids were cruel and they teased me,” Minister Campbell said.
“When I came to this Ministry, I thought that experience may have been preparing me for this. We have a group of persons, who for various reasons, find themselves vulnerable, find themselves in need of assistance. They are no less than anybody else because -- but for the Grace of God -- today we are on this side giving assistance. One accident or incident, and we can be on the other side of the desk receiving the assistance.
“And so I thought it to be our responsibility -- while we have the opportunity – to do two things: first, to see if we can put in place the policies and protocols and procedures that will remove the stigma and embarrassment that I experienced and secondly to make it a smoother, more efficient programme for anyone who may find themselves needing it, even us.”
Minister Campbell made the disclosure during the signing of Agreements (Tuesday, June 23, 2020) formalizing the Beta Testing for the use of Digital Wallets and Digital Coupons in the delivery of social assistance to Bahamians between officials from the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development and the Department of Social Services, along with representatives from three, private local companies.
The signings took place just days after Minister Campbell, announced during an Official Visit to Freeport, Grand Bahama, June 18-19 that Beta Testing for the Digital Wallets and Digital Coupons in the delivery of social assistance would commence at the “end of this month.”
The exercise is expected to complement the ProMIS Web Application initiative to further expand the Ministry’s digitization and modernization process with the introduction of digital wallets and digital coupons. The implementation of ProMIS incorporates a MIS System and online social assistance application process and online management.
“I am proud to be doing this today, not for myself, but because I know that it is going to reduce and/or eliminate the frustrations of our internal customers, our team members, who are providing social assistance to our clients; and the clients who have their own situations and come already frustrated, wondering why it is taking so long, not realizing that there are many others and that there are some antiquated systems, etcetera,” Minister Campbell said. “The use of the Digital Wallets and Digital Coupons will alleviate those frustrations and reduce and/or eliminate the long lines.”
Mr. Harvey Morris, Director, Omni Financial Group Limited, representing Transfer Solutions Providers Ltd., (OMNI App) executing the Agreement formalizing Omni’s participation in the Beta Testing of the use of Digital Wallets and Digital Coupons in the delivery of social assistance to Bahamians. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)
By Matt Maura