The United States Agency for International Development – Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (USAID-SURGE) is definitely making headway in their quest to assist Tagbilaran City to achieve broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth.
Series of assessments last week have already rolled out in the various departments of the city government.
USAID e-Peso experts Jing Gusto and Don Pua conducted scoping activities in Tagbilaran to assess its infrastructure capability, policy mechanisms and manpower base for the operationalization of the initiative.
The e-Peso is the transition from cash to electronic payment. Cash transactions will now be prepared and disbursed electronically.
Anthony P. Petalcorin, USAID E-PESO Project Deputy Chief of Party during their visit last January said that the system can eliminate manual segregation and non-reconciled funds.
â€œPeople and enterprises can transact with the LGUs anytime and anywhere,â€ Petalcorin emphasized.
Further, electronic payment eliminates person-to-person transactions, reducing opportunities for leakages and corruption.
Also, taxpayers, both individuals and corporations, no longer need to carry large sums of money during tax collection period, lowering the risk of theft.
Gusto and Pua discussed the preparatory steps on how to go about the system.
The USAID experts stressed placing enabling mechanisms for Tagbilaran Cityâ€™s e-readiness. Identified core spots are the building up of qualified people.
City Mayor John Geesnell â€œBabaâ€ Yap guaranteed that an Executive Order will be issued for the Technical Working Group (TWG), tapping all the offices involved to identify and prioritize solutions concerning the payment streams implementation.
Next was the placement of relevant infrastructure, both hardware and software.
Pua said a reliable internet connection and server are two basic aspects to consider.
The third crucial requirement was to provide a local ordinance to support electronic payment.
Mayor Yap raised concerns on the safety and security of the data during transmittal.
Pua said that telecommunication companies have the necessary measures to safeguard content, just like in any online banking system in the country.
Moreover, front-linersâ€™ training is crucial. Simultaneous with these activities is the information and communication campaign among the stakeholders, with the end goal of building the e-payment ecosystem in the City.
With USAID-SURGE on the helm, Tagbilaran City is expected to become more economically resilient and develop into a growth center outside the urban core of Manila.
SURGE is the flagship activity of USAIDâ€™s Cities Development Initiative (CDI), which aims to transform secondary cities into viable growth centers.
Tagbilaran is one of the USAID-CDI partner cities together with Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga.