By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
(Frigate Bay, St. Kitts)”Deputy Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Sam Condor has made a call for the government sector to be more efficient and effective by the removal of “red tape” that creates inconvenience and waste of time. “For citizens, government bureaucracy means inconvenience and waste of time. For businesses that interact frequently with government to pay taxes and comply with a wide range of regulations and other portal requirements, bureaucracy means real added cost,” Mr. Condor said. Mr. Condor’s remarks were made at the International Seminar of E-Government Cooperation Experience between St. Kitts/Nevis and Taiwan, held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on November 27. The Seminar was sponsored by the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF), Taiwan and co-sponsored by the Embassy of Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs, Labour, Social Security, Information and Technology. The seminar, the first of its kind to be held, was designed to educate persons working within the public sector from territories throughout the Caribbean, to apply internet practices to improve government services and practices by making them more efficient. Specialists in Information Technology from Taiwan were the presenters of the one day seminar. Participating overseas countries included Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The culture of inefficiency and ineffectiveness must change, Mr. Condor said. “I don’t know why people believe that in the government sector you must be more inefficient and ineffective,” Mr. Condor said. “We have to arrive at a stage where we could rival the private sector in terms of efficiency and delivery of services.” Mr. Condor said that there must be drastic reforms for how the public sector operates and that the best way of doing it is to remove the bureaucracy about how you hire and fire civil servants. “If people knew that they could be fired in a day, they would be more responsive in terms of how they operate,” he said. Mr. Condor welcomed the seminar on e-government as one way of helping to remove the clutter of bureaucracy. “One such step towards obtaining real transformation has been the implementation of e-government as an enabler for greater operational efficiency for the provision of government services,” he said. “The term e-government is now widely used to describe the way governments of the future should operate.” “Caribbean governments are at a major crossroads. Our financial and economic ecosystems are changing rapidly in an information age that has made it increasingly difficult for governments to control and regulate the activities within their borders,” he said. Project costs are rising faster than revenue, and increasing security concerns and an underperforming sector, create a compelling price for governments to act with a sense of urgency, he said.” “To address these challenges, government must cast off the patterns of slow incremental changes of the past and drive real transformation throughout. Governments that do this effectively will be in a position to increase economic development and enhance the quality of life for its citizens,” he said. Secretary General of Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund, Ambassador Chen Lien Gene, gave the VIP address, in which he called for a bridging of the gap between the have’s and the have not’s. “As we all know, information and communication technology has become an essential factor in every walk of today’s life and it will become even more and more important everyday,” he said. “It is not only a factor of running the whole system of today’s world but it is a very important factor for development. Without Information Technology, a country will never catch up with the rest of the world and so the gap between the have’s and the have not’s become an increasing concern worldwide. Governments, international organizations, NGO’s and the private sector have therefore been urged to work together and to cooperate in promoting IT projects so that we can help to bridge the gap,” Ambassador Chen said. The Director of the Department of Technology, Mr. Wesley Wharton, gave a power point presentation entitled “The e-Government Journey: The Cooperative Experience between St. Kitts/Nevis and Taiwan. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan have been collaborating on various cooperation projects in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, and agro-processing and enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship for the last 25 years. In 2006, both countries agreed to technological cooperation. In 2007, an Information and Communication Technology Centre was opened in St. Kitts in collaboration with the Taiwanese government to help bridge the digital divide and build up a thorough e-Government system. Ambassador Chen said that Taiwan is committed to use its technological expertise and experience to help its diplomatic allies.