Improving the Financial Support Program
Ministry of Social Development

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
For many years Bahrain has had a well-targeted social assistance program that provides important support to very poor households. Beneficiaries include single, elderly, individuals, and female-headed households with no income or family support and persons with disabilities, among others. Households that are receiving this targeted social welfare benefit that varies by individual needs, but which is small enough to discourage middle- and high-income groups from claiming this assistance. During 2008-09 Bahrain experienced a sharp increase in prices, hurting many low- and middle-income households. To combat potential hardship on households, and following a Parliamentary decision, the Government initiated a large-scale cash transfer program in 2008 targeted to lower-middle income families as well as poor families who are already recipients of the social welfare benefits. This program is called the Financial Support program. An amount of BD50 per month per household was provided. Eligibility criteria included the following: • Head of household is a citizen of Bahrain; • Total income of head of household does not exceed BHD700 per month, where no allowance was made for household size, only income of head of household is taken into account; • Head of household does not own more than two properties for which he/she is paying electricity bills; • Head of household does not have a commercial registration (i.e. he/she does not own or rent a commercial operation such as a shop or similar income-earning operation); and • Widowed or divorced women with children younger than 25. To summarize the Challenges posed for MOSD service delivery: 1- The kingdom of Bahrain has implemented a financial support program in order to support lower-middle citizens it face the financial struggle associated with the increase of consumer goods. The financial support program has been managed in a manual manner in which the analysis of citizens’ information was processed manually and the involvement of several entities had caused some delays and inaccuracy in the information exchanged. 2- Enforcement of eligibility criteria was difficult and time-consuming. The Director of MOSD often has to spend hours on a daily basis talking to people who are coming with complaints; sometimes the Director needs to go on field visits to personally check on the veracity of complaints. When incomes are “self-declared”, it is difficult to assess accurately, because unlike in USA and many other countries, in Bahrain there is no personal income tax, no commercial income tax, and no property tax. 3- Calculating the income of the head of household plus other parameters such as property ownership, commercial registration, etc. Such eligibility criteria do not result in significant poverty relief nor do they contribute to promotion of solidarity. So such points in the eligibility criteria needed to be considered and to study other options. 4- In the Financial Support program, for all eligible households, a flat rate income transfer of BD50 (US$133) per month was provided with the head of the household earning less than BHD700 (US$1900). Applying a Flat rate benefit blunts this inequality-reducing, solidarity-promoting impact, since a household with An income of BD 700 receives the same absolute benefit as a household with no income. 5- The data of applicants are difficult to administer since it is information-intensive, in addition, for some beneficiaries, their welfare situation changes, marital status, income, etc. The program was not sophisticated to the level it should reach for a such huge number of beneficiaries.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The establishment of the Ministry of Social Development under the Royal Decree in 2005 is one of the fruits of the prosperous era. Since its formation, the Ministry has always taken upon itself to implement an integrated system of services for various segments of society and to achieve welfare and social security for citizens. MOSD aims to develop both the individual and society, promoting individuals socially, educationally, economically, intellectually and culturally and providing them with all forms of support and care to enable them to perform their role in the best way possible towards their nation and society. Therefore, the social assistance program support households who may become poor in the absence of such cash assistance, Where the financial support program, which was launched in 2008, provides low to mid income families with a monthly subsidy in order to aid the citizens to face the inflation growth. The initiative was to implement a centralized integrated solution to support this program and provide on-the-go definition of citizens’ eligibility for financial support. The time-frame of processing applicants request has decreased from 2 to 3 months to 1 month which had led to higher satisfaction of Bahraini citizens. The financial support program had a flat rate benefit, determined on the basis of the income of the head of household plus other parameters such as property ownership, commercial registration, etc. Accordingly, the initiative of the new criteria is improving the targeting performance: < B.D 701-1000 (US$2646) B.D 301-700 (US$1852) < B.D 300 (US$794) Total Income B.D. 50 (US$133) B.D. 70 (US$185) B.D. 100 (US$265) Allowance On the other hand, total Income is now calculated by the sum of different sources, such as: Salary, Pension, other fixed government allowances, Social Assistance Allowance, Income from rentals, Income from CRs. So not the number of properties matters, only the income of it if exist. For the CR, what matters are the number of CR branches, number of employees in the CR, and the total salaries of employees in the CR. To administer the information-intensive and updating, MOSD considered the fact that such a system can be developed because the government of Bahrain already has data basis for individual programs. These data basis may be integrated with CPR data base, which provides information on demographic characteristics of all Bahraini households. MOSD is keen also to employ technology and to implement pioneer systems to provide citizens with a high level of service. By our latest FS system carries out many operations automatically using direct automated link with the relevant governmental bodies. MOSD guarantees, by this system, to save beneficiary's right to receive the total dues and simplify the registration process. In which, a citizen is not require to prove any information related to him/her or to bring along documents. Only the ID card and IBAN no. is required. On the other hand, One of MOSD's main objectives is to develop the institutional infrastructure and fair geographical distribution of services across the different regions of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Accordingly, the Ministry continued to establish many community centers until 2014, currently reaching 11 community centers distributed all over the governorates of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Citizens can visit any of those centers, which are located it within their neighborhood, to ask for information about all services provided, in addition to the ability

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The integrity between the involved entities is now being carried online and on the spot without any manual interaction to define the eligibility of citizens for financial support. It is considered one of the very first solutions to approach citizens with a one stop shop without the need of visiting any other entity by the citizens. There are many features making the Financial Support Program successful: • Save beneficiary's right to receive the total dues. • Simplify the registration process. In which, a citizen is not require to prove any information related to him/her or to bring along documents. Only the ID card and IBAN no. is required. • Eliminate current process to re-examine applications by social worker, instead, a direct web link is available with relative governmental bodies to examine each of the following: o Social status o health status o Status o Income o business records o residence Since the system is carrying out many operations automatically, with an actual integration across relevant governmental bodies, many advantages have been perceived: • Availability: By allowing such service that depends on the proving citizen situation and marital status, citizens are able to register for the service with no supporting documents. • Security of transactions: The implemented system is built on very strict security consideration. • Efficiency: both time and resources can be saved.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Planning: Bearing all disadvantages of the old Financial support program in mind, the Program needs to be designed carefully, with clear built-in exit strategies. Because of the solid background of the ministry in providing other similar services, such as the provision of different financial services to various beneficiaries, Government assigned the project to the ministry. Therefore, MOSD had to adopted various strategies to minimize drawbacks in the system and to improve the program up to the standards and that coordinates with the social aspects for the Bahraini society. First, benefit levels are often based on and scaled according to the total income of a household. Second, strictly enforce eligibility requirements. So total income (head of household) from different sources, such as salary, pension, other fixed government allowances (eg, social allowance), social assistance allowance, income from rentals, income from CRs. On the other hand, income from Commercial Registration (CR) if exist, should be calculated with other incomes. Yet there is a criteria for CRs in which number of CR branches should not be more than one, the number of employees in the CR should not exceed 10, and the total salaries of employees in the CR must not exceed BD 1000. Furthermore, the income from properties for which household is paying electricity bills, no matter the number of properties he/she owns. Piloting: A pilot of the project was implemented and called "CTP Program – Cash Transfer Program – Phase I" to allow for examination of full impact, MOSD invites beneficiaries to visit available community centers on their neighborhood to update their status. MOSD collected data of a number of 40,000 who did updated information related to their bank accounts and some other issues if any is existing. This sample helped in measuring statistics, in addition to general evaluation of benefits and weaknesses, and of course, citizen's opinions. Scaling: Benefits and weaknesses were evaluated in the CTP Program before implementation on a bigger scale basis. The project team members gained more experience. By detecting issues at the pilot, the team could conduct tuning to the program to reducing the risk of propagating possible problems. smaller scale study the integration and technology to handle huge number of applicants. Also made the team better equipped for the larger scale deployment. One of the statistics indicates that the number of new applicants who have not benefited from previous systems reached 66.8%. which showed that the changes made in the criteria has had the opportunity to those group of citizens to benefit from the proposed program. Monitoring A monthly evaluation is then carried out for all mismatched information to measure the accuracy of the system, the data through the integration with other governmental bodies, and the financial cycle. implementation plan: Task Name Duration Start Finish FS Project 68 days Thu 7/4/13 Tue 10/8/13 FS Requirements 1 day Thu 7/4/13 Thu 7/4/13 FS Requirement Analysis 26 days Tue 7/9/13 Wed 8/14/13 FS ETL Requirements 1 day Mon 7/15/13 Mon 7/15/13 FS ETL Analysis 26 days Wed 7/17/13 Thu 8/22/13 FS Development 39 days Sun 7/28/13 Thu 9/19/13 Registration Module 37 days Sun 7/28/13 Tue 9/17/13 ETL 17 days Sun 8/25/13 Mon 9/16/13 Payment Module 20 days Sun 8/25/13 Thu 9/19/13 FS Test 40 days Tue 8/13/13 Mon 10/7/13 System Test 33 days Tue 8/13/13 Thu 9/26/13 FS UAT 23 days Tue 9/3/13 Thu 10/3/13 UAT Feedback and Bugs Fixing 22 days Sun 9/8/13 Mon 10/7/13 Reflect Needed Changes on SA to deploy FS and SA applications in one schema 5 days Sun 9/1/13 Thu 9/5/13 Moving to Production 20 days Wed 9/11/13 Tue 10/8/13

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
MOSD seeks other parties' views to discuss the alternatives to reform and improve the Financial support Program taking into account the importance of simplifying the registration process, the reduction in inequality, in addition to other importance political considerations. Therefore it was important to involve a group of parties into reviewing the criteria. Initially, MOSD started seeking the World Bank's advice and asked for a study that is covering universal cash transfers programs and discussing other practices, in addition to reveal a targeting method based on income that seeks to collect comprehensive information on household income and/or wealth and verifies the information collected against independent sources. However, Parliament role was very valuable as they have influential role in the government. MOSD also have encouraging the citizen of Bahrain to get on its hotline free number in addition to social media to reach out opinions and open the chance widely for the public to debate and vote on how to improve its services, where Financial support system took a big part of it. Several central government agencies were involved with the development of Financial Support Program. Their roles range from strategic development to provide information about individuals, where such data basis are linked and integrated into one system that is ran by MOSD. The Governmental bodies who are linked into the Financial support Program are: • MoSD: Social Security Allowance • MPF: Military Income • SIO: Civilian Income • CIO: Gender, Marital Status, Relationship, etc • EWA: Income from Properties • RCO: Widowed and Orphans' Allowances • Ministry of Interior: Residency
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Answer: Technical cost is as follows: Phase I costs around B.D.89,000 Phase II costs around B.D.98,000 Future Phase II is estimated to cost around: B.D. 60,000 The project is funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The operational cost of the financial support program since its inception in 2008 is B.D. 1,207.819

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Successful outputs: • Reducing inequality • Contribute to promotion of solidarity • Simplifying and dignity. In which, a citizen is not require to prove any information related to him/her or to bring along documents. Only the ID card and IBAN no. is required. • MOSD is proud to be the first in the region to deploy such system There are many benefits of the system that can be summarized as follows: • Save beneficiary's right to receive the total dues. • Sophisticated system that perform all Payment Process: o Confirm Banking information o Create financial transactions o Generate payment reports o Generate monthly payments o Generate treasury files • A High-level Monthly integration: The integrity between the involved entities is now being carried online and on the spot without any manual interaction to define the eligibility of citizens for financial support, where it reveal the following: o Validate Marital status o Validate employment status o Validate income o Validate CRs o Update Fsupport subsidy

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Financial Support system with its many integration touch points has to be continuously monitored by administrators and backend users. The citizen usually fix all his corresponding information in various governmental entities and accordingly request the financial support services. Shall the information provided during registration, matches the information registered in the relative entities, the application passes. However, if the information differs, the registered application gets communicated with the corresponding entity in order to verify the information. A monthly evaluation is then carried out for all mismatched information to measure the accuracy of the system. Approximately 1% inaccuracy has been reported of the overall financial support beneficiaries.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Obstacle 1: Detailed business processes: Money should be transferred to persons who meet a certain criteria. The eligibility criteria varies depending on the overall income of the head of household. Detailed eligibility criteria and taking in consideration the special cases of the citizens has been a main challenge the in business process. Obstacle 2: Governmental bodies approvals for data access and usage: Gaining approval of integration across governmental entities was very challenging in terms of data security and confidentiality. Such Critical foundation for ensuring the appropriate sharing and use of data. Obstacle 3: Data security and integrity: A system with the mass data of the population of Bahrain is considered a highly sensitive and contains confidential information of Bahraini citizens. therefore, the highest measures of access privileges has been adopted for each and every user group. In addition to monitoring administrators access with the state-of the art network security implemented. Obstacle 4: Citizens must keep their data up to date to avoid any disrupt in the subsidies. As this is a solely citizens’ responsibility to maintain the freshness of the his information. It has been recorded as one of the main challenges in the system. An awareness campaign has been triggered nation-wide in order to request the citizens to maintain healthy governmental records in order to avoid any disruption in the services provided by the government mainly and the financial support in specific. Obstacle 5: Social aspects for the Bahraini society: The World Bank has provided a model to implement the financial support in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Despite the high standards used in the given model, it has failed in the implementation to meet the citizens’ expectations and to support the Bahraini society. Therefore, the Ministry of Social Development has managed to tweak the system to meet the Bahraini citizens social aspects.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The social impact of the implementation of the new financial support eligibility criteria was highly desired by the citizens’ of Bahrain with the raise of the highest income eligible to BHD 1000. In addition to the income, the new system allows citizens owning one commercial registration to benefit from the financial support subsidy. This change has led to an increase of approximately 30,000 beneficiaries to the financial support in whom they weren’t eligible before. However, on the negative side, the increase of the required budget has reached 30 Million BHD annually in order to support all the eligible citizens. Even though the eligibility criteria is considered one of the most generous subsidies in the region, yet it has a high impact on the long run with the numbers of eligible candidates increasing. Therefore, an actuarial study was recommended in order to find the impact on different periods in the future.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This system is considered one of the pioneer system to support the financial support subsidies taking into consideration the social aspects of the citizens. it was built to be dynamic and could adopt to changes in just a few administrative steps. At any given time, the system could be transferred to be managed by any other governmental entity given that they have the appropriate infrastructure and support the security constraints adopted by this system. With only the head of the household income is matter, even if the gross income of all members of the household exceeds BHD1,000. Clearly, Bahrain eligibility criteria is much more generous than other counters, yet need to be considered for improvement.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
MOSD overall experience with the Financial Support program revealed many important outcomes, we list some below: - The value of increasing the awareness amongst key stakeholder: The initiative showed how building the stakeholder's trust with the ministry is important and that by being committed to them. This was mainly achieved by increasing their awareness by involving them in the main elements of the project. - The importance of sophisticated system: An important first step toward system reform begins with adjusting approaches of data management and integration. Developing the Financial support electronic systems which automated all the processes with a sophisticated successful integration with the group of governmental bodies results in a fruitful pioneer system. Therefore, the system has helped to create opportunities to improve the overall quality of work, data, and process' flow. - The need for research and conducting studies: An important role of advice, support, and helping to set strategy direction was held by the World Bank. In general, the findings of the study helped us in evaluating the current situation and how to overcome drawbacks of current system, and also uncover any potential problems. A Major aspect of the study is comparing with international best practices to come up with the best reforms.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Social Development
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Sahar AlMannai
Title:   Chief of Registration and Social Services  
Telephone/ Fax:   +973 39988 951
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   sahar.almannai@social.gov.bh  
Address:  
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