In a technical workshop held this week, the Government of Iraq and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will discuss the potential introduction of electronic food vouchers in the Iraqi Public Distribution System (PDS). They will be joined by financial payments experts from MasterCard, the leading global technology and payments company, which, under a global partnership, is partnering with WFP to strengthen its delivery of “digital food,” in the form of vouchers.
The use of electronic food vouchers to distribute benefits, such as through “smart cards,” is an innovative approach that would increase efficiency in the PDS, which acts as a social safety net for the poor. By allowing people to shop in local stores, electronic vouchers also increase access to fresh food and other nutritious food while boosting the local economy, thereby encouraging investment in, and growth of, the Iraqi private sector.
Electronic vouchers are more financially secure than traditional cash transfers, and they act as a flexible tool that can help harmonize the distribution of many types of social welfare. They could also be considered as a means to transfer not only credits for food, but for health care, education and other items.
This workshop is a result of the collaboration between WFP and the High Committee for the Reform of the PDS. The two-day workshop will be followed by a consultative meeting on 12 June, chaired by H.E. Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the High Commission for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Dr. Roz Nuri Shawees [Shaways], with the presence of members of the Commission and the High Committee for the Reform of the PDS, headed by the Secretary General for the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. Ali Muhsen Al Alak.