Non-Banking Financial Institutions Are Disturbing Public Sector Workers With Nuisance Text Messages : Are We Safe?

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Most public servants of Ghana if not all, receive their monthly salaries through the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD).

Before any public servant is placed on any public sector payroll to start receiving salaries, the person provides his personal information to the CAGD through a biometric registration and the completion of a form called *New Entrant* form. Notable among the demographic information provided in completing the new entrant form is the provision of one’s name, date of birth, SSNIT number and cell phone number.

Providing one’s personal information to another party in an employment contract should come with the assurance that the employee’s privacy will be respected and protected.

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In the past and until 2014, the CAGD used to pay the public sector workers using a paper-based or manual payroll which was printed and sent to the respective public sector organizations for verification and endorsement by those at the helm of organizational affairs.

With the advancement of technology and mindful of the fact that the cumbersome paper-based payroll which was being printed even after salaries were paid was no longer helpful, the CAGD introduced an Electronic Salary Payment Voucher (ESPV).
With the introduction of the ESPV, the respective public sector organizations whose employees are paid through the CAGD do validate the names of their employees before the CAGD pays them.
So far, the ESPV has been very useful in managing the public sector payroll even though it is not without some difficulties.

Perhaps the most unpleasant thing that befalls the public servants currently with the use of the ESPV is that microfinancial institutions seem to have access to the CAG database and therefore send numerous nuisance text messages to these individual workers, patronizing them to come for soft and quick loans at very affordable or cheaper rates.
Below are three samples of such messages.

1. QUICK LOANS! INSTANT LOAN TO ALL GOVT WORKERS WITHIN 45 MINS AT AFFORDABLE RATE.PLS CALL US ON 0244071367.PAY OFF AVAILABLE if interested.

2. {BEST FINANCE} we offer financial assistance from GH1000-GH80,000 within 1hr at the lowest rate and payoff anytime call 0246127969/0552035076.

3. CASH OFFICE Wish to give loans to all government workers at a reduced interest of 1.5% and enjoyed 2 months grace before deduction call 0542127114.

4. Take an instant loan or top up in less than 45munites at the lowest rate and enjoy 2months grace period before deduction. Call ELIKEM on:0544473091 now.

Evidence abounds that most of the public servants who fell prey to some of these Shylock loan companies in the past had suffered a great deal as most of the extremely low interest rates qouted were applied on a compound basis. Basically, compound interest means the addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or paying interest on interest.

Therefore, the loan benefiticiary has to work for so many years to settle the small amount of loan granted. A pure merchant of Venice and a pound of flesh situation in the hands of Shylocks.
Perhaps the most nauseating aspect of it all is that one worker may receive close to 15 or more of such microfinance messages in a day.
This unpleasant situation came to the attention of the CAGD yet still nothing has been done to solve the problem and the public servants continue to endure this unfortunate situation.
The telcos are equally aware of the problem yet they have done nothing to metigate or eliminate it. The situation leaves so many questions unanswered which one would like to pose in rhetorical forms as follows :

1. How did the microfinancial institutions get access to the workers’ contact numbers before sending them the nuisance text messages?
2. Why is the CAGD seemingly condoning the unfortunate situation or better still staying aloof as if it is no issue at all?
3. Has this occurence come to the notice of the National Communication Authority (NCA) and if yes, can they prevail on the telcos to take a remedial action?
4. Can the public sector employers whose employees receive these nuisance text messages also meet the relevant stakeholders to deal with the situation?

5. Should it be out of tune if our Parliamentarians (the representatives of the people) discus this problem and come to the aid of the public sector workers? This is because, whenever an identified public problem affects the whole society or even a cross section of society, an appropriate public policy must be forthcoming to address the problem.

6. Or do we wait till the workers stage demonstrations or go on strike again before someone listens to them?

It is envisaged that this article exposing the problem for a public discourse will get to the right authorities for the required panacea to be proffered. Until then we can only sympathize with the public sector workers affected by the problem and say sorry to them.

However, I want to believe that those clothed with power in officialdom will not only listen but also act swiftly on the problem. Naturally, responsibile elders do not allow a pregnant goat to go into labor while tethered to a tree. May the Lord God Himself touch the relevant hearts.Asante Sana.

Source: Philip Afeti Korto

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