Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today formally launched the Government Electronic Payment Gateway (GePG), which will improve the efficiency of the country's financial system and herald a slew of reforms and transparency in the working of the government.
Mukherjee said the e-payment system will reduce the citizen interface by eliminating beneficiary dependency on government office and officials to hand over the cheque since the payments would be effected directly into their accounts. The entire payment process is trackable and delays can be monitored online, he said, adding that it would be a major initiative for reducing corruption and ensuring good governance.
The digital signature-based payment system is security compliant and is in keeping with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, he said.
The system, covering all central government departments and ministries, is expected to eliminate almost twenty million cheques. When fully operational in civil ministries, defence and Railways, it is expected to cover a total payment of over Rs6,00,000 crore. "This is likely to impact the working of a large number of government and bank employees involved in the government payments," he said.
In the entire process, it will spare valuable human resources, which could be re-deployed to perform other important functions of the organisations, the minister added.
The GePG, which could be used for interacting with banks for enabling the payments and payment scroll receipt, is also scalable, capable of handling all government payments.
The GePG, he said, would serve as a single window for all transfers and payments from the government, thereby bringing in greater efficiencies and economies of scale in payment operations.
The system has been developed in close partnership with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and banks. He was happy to note NIC's involvement in this remarkable project and said that there is an urgent need for diffusing the benefits of such initiatives to the lowest tiers of beneficiaries residing in village panchayats. He stated that we must think of ways and means of leveraging ICT to ensure this so that there is an inclusive financial growth and development across the country.
The system is robust and can be used for routing all inter-government advices for transfer to states, according to the controller general of accounts C R Sundaramurti.