It was Christmas 2012.
Single mom, Cheryl Alexander, lived with her four children in a small house in Jacob’s Hill, Wallerfield blocked around with plywood and galvanise sheets.
The Finance Division of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has introduced a new system to speed up payments to staff and suppliers. Last December, more than 400 THA workers had their salaries paid electronically through an Automated Clearing House (ACH, is a feature of the e-First platform commissioned by the Assembly through its bankers. The system allows for electronic credit transfers such as the direct deposit of wages and salaries and the transfer of payments to suppliers of goods and services.
The ACH introduced in the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development provides a secure electronic network for processing large volumes of debit and credit transactions. It will allow payments to be transmitted directly to and between accounts at all six commercial banks. The welcome feature eliminates the need for the majority of cash and cheque payments and when fully implemented will greatly reduce the waiting time for payments to suppliers while improving the security of transactions.
THA staff, however, now have the benefit of salaries and wages paid directly to designated accounts so that standing in line to change a cheque could be a thing of the past. “The ACH is one important step towards bringing improved service to stakeholders of the THA,” said THA Finance Secretary Joel Jack.
“The move fulfills our promise to adopt more efficient systems and processes that enhance productivity. Our stakeholders have all clamoured for changes in the culture of service delivery; the payments process has come in for criticism in the past and this is our positive response.
“While the ACH will eliminate the need for the manual preparation of payroll cheques each month, we continue to work on the back end of processing to create sustainable improvement. The new system also protects the Assembly and its staff from the possibility of fraud and financial risk; it allows for tighter security control and the reduction of costs. We are moving next to facilitate payments to vendors.”
Over the next few months the operation of the facility will be evaluated and lessons learned incorporated before the service is extended throughout the THA.