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Johnson: Govt seeking to reduce revenue leakage with digital payments system

The government is hoping to reduce revenue leakages with its new digital payment system, DigiPay.

The payment system was designed and developed by a young Bahamian technologist, Kristie Powell, and allows for the payment of government services online, doing away with the longstanding practice of
agencies accepting and handling large sums of cash.

Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said as the government further embraces digitization, it will be better able to track revenue intake.

“We haven’t quantified it as yet, but several studies have been done over the years that have indicated that revenue leakage could be anywhere up to ten percent of the revenue take. What we have found and what you have seen in many audit reports that have been done, is that there are persistent weaknesses in the whole management of revenue and management of cash. That has certainly been validated by even more recent internal audits that would have been done,” he said during a virtual press conference about the full integration of the courts into the new system.

“What we will be tracking is what the actual revenue impact is as we transition out of these more archaic processes, embrace more digital approaches and eventually go cashless across different agencies. The government’s policy is to offer time move away from cash-in agencies, but because of DigiPay we will have the ability to allow third-party financial providers for persons who can only pay in cash. And we will be tracking how that impacts our revenue flows and how that limits leakages going forward.”

The government rolled out its newest digital platform, the My Services Pilot Program, in early February, which allows residents to apply and pay for driver’s license renewals, as well as birth, marriage and death certificates online.

Additionally, the Department of Immigration last year rolled out its online portal and has since processed 23,812 transactions as of March 24.

Minister of State for Finance Senator Kwasi Thompson said Bahamians can finally avoid the hassle of going to government offices to stand in long lines and can instead opt to receive the same services from the comfort of their homes.

“In the very near future, Digipay will be available for the Port Department, the Department of Inland Revenue for real property tax collection, the Customs Department, the Road Traffic Department, the Registrar General’s Department, the Department of Labour and the Royal Bahamas Police Force. As a part of the government’s ongoing digitization efforts to increase the ease of doing business in The Bahamas, the Digital Transformation Unit will release an additional three services on the online portal, mypilotservices.gov.bs,” he said.

“This is going to be released on Monday, March 29. These include the application for the police character reference, the renewal of gun licenses and the renewal of the e-passport, all online. Eventually, the government plans to add 200 official services to the portal for users to apply and conduct safe and secure payments. These will be placed online over a five-year period.”

He continued, “Bahamian citizens on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco and North Andros ages 18 or older will now be able to apply and pay for driver’s licenses, renewal and birth, marriage and death certificates; also their police character reference, renewal of gun license and renewal of gun licenses.”

Thompson said by mid-April the new services added to the portal will include housing applications, the renewal of driver’s license permits, deeds and documents, notary public license renewal and new applications, post office box rentals and applications for new post office boxes.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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