With the launch of the new E-Government Web Portal and e-services, the public has a new way to do business with the Government, Prime Minister the Rt Hon Hubert Ingraham said during the Portal’s official launch at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort, Thursday.
“Today, we change the concept of service delivery by moving government services from the counter only, to the computer screen also. Today, we begin E-Government in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Ingraham said.
“This is a fundamental change that could have tremendous benefits for our country, as today we live in a world where technology is driving business and service delivery.”
The Government ensured the success of its $10.2 million investment by bringing in consultants from Singapore’s IDA International, IBM, the Public Service Transformation Group, and all of the other various information officers and staff members of government ministries and departments under the direction of the Department of Technology in the Ministry of Finance.
The Prime Minister noted that E-Government has been around for many years.
“In fact, countries are ranked by the United Nations for their implementation of, and maturity in e-Government,” he said. “Today, The Bahamas is only ranked 65 out of more than 180 countries. We want to change that.”
Prime Minister Ingraham said the Government believes that investing in the use of technology to deliver public services (education, health, financial, etc.) will catapult the nation forward in the delivery of services to the Bahamian public.
In addition, he explained that it is envisioned that the Government’s substantial progress in implementing E-Government will serve as a catalyst to drive a new wave of the use of technology in all facets of the Bahamian economy.
Four e-Services were launched on the comprehensive E-Government platform. These services include:
• Renewal of Driver’s License
• Real Property Tax Payments
• Service-wide Customer Service
• Vendor Enquiry
Prime Minister Ingraham said Customer Service was one of the first to be introduced because the Government wants to encourage the use of the E-Government Portal by launching a service that has a very broad base of users, and because improved responsiveness to the public is critical to building a more effective Public Service.
He also noted that the Vendor Enquiry service will be particularly useful to businesses and independent entrepreneurs who provide goods and services to the Government.
“Each approved Vendor will be given a Vendor ID. Using that ID the vendor can enter a system in the Treasury which will inform the vendor of payments disbursed (cheques cut) to his/her business and whether it is in the mail, awaiting collection at the Treasury, etc. This will do away with the constant need for vendors to check and follow up on payments with individual Ministries and Departments,” Prime Minister Ingraham said.
Within the next few weeks, the Government will add two additional services to the platform, namely the Application for Business Licence and Payment of Business Licence Taxes.
“When Parliament reconvenes in October, this year, we will introduce amendments to the Road Traffic Act relating to fixed penalties to make such penalties more reasonable and to bring them in line with international standards. Once this is done, we will bring fixed penalty payments online by year’s end,” the Prime Minister said.
“This will greatly relieve the pressure on our Traffic Courts and provide a convenient means for the payment of road traffic penalties.”
He also said over the next several years the Government will continue to offer the public scores of additional new services and by the end of the fiscal year introduce:
• application for new work permits as well as renewals;
• payment of customs duties;
• payment of police character certificates;
• payment of passport applications; and
• payment of post office box rentals.
Prime Minister invited members of the public to participate in determining the direction the initiative will take in the months and years ahead.
He said, “We are deepening and broadening the Government’s efforts to create more of a service culture aided by cutting-edge technology and best practices in the public service. And we are improving the means by which services will be delivered to businesses and the general public.”