To make the government payments outside the country more convenient and efficient, Finance Ministry and Bank of Bhutan yesterday launched official credit card for the government agencies.

Finance secretary Nim Dorji said that with the card, government agencies could make online payments and purchases both within and outside the country. “The main objective is to facilitate government agencies to make online payment for very important procurement related issues, such as subscription to international organizations, payment of fees, hotel bookings, and travel payment. This will facilitate ease of payment and real time payment.”

The card would reduce the risk of carrying cash advances and replace cash requirements to make payment effective and efficient. The card is also expected to reduce processing time and administrative costs as the transaction would be on real-time.

Director of Department of Public Accounts, Tshering Dorji, said that before the introduction of the card, payments had to be made through cheques or through wire transfer. “We had to write an official letter to the bank, and the bank had to send it to their intermediary bank abroad. It was a long and time consuming process and transaction fees had to be paid,” he said. “Official credit card is a simplification and facilitation payment system for prompt service delivery and to reduce administrative cost.”

During the launch, cards were provided to foreign ministry, National Council (NC), Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and finance ministry.

Nim Dorji said during the pilot period, until December, transactions and payments of the four agencies would be reviewed to see how it could facilitate real time online payment. “These agencies will provide the feedback and starting from January 2018, we will also try to extend such facilities to other agencies.”

Tshering Dorji said any government official could use the official credit card as per guidelines and entitlement. “It is only to facilitate payment and we should not compromise any existing financial or procurement rules and regulations.”

Tshering Dorji said that currently the guideline mentions only specific expenditure that the card can pay and would be revised based on the feedback received from the pilot project. “Royal Monetary Authority has a limit on the credit card, currently the annual limit is 10,000 dollars.”

Finance Minister Namgay Dorji said it is one of the many initiatives taken by the government towards digitisation of services and cashless economy.

Karma Cheki