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Dienstag, 11.08.2020
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

Long queues, never-ending waiting time, bureaucratic red tape and officials waiting for their palms to be greased – these are some of the attributes that can be associated every time we want to renew our license, get new electricity/gas connections and other administrative transactions involving the government. Inefficiencies and delays dominate government transactions. If we are to improve our economy, starting from this front will give us a head-start.

Our economy had experienced its heyday, occasional, only to fall again. This rise and fall will continue to occur while dream of a stable growth always elusive until or unless the structural issues are fixed instead of curing the symptoms. While there are many issues that need structural adjustment, a good point to begin these reforms is improving the processes and procedures that define the relationship between a government and a common man. Billions of rupees are wasted due to bottlenecks and administrative hindrances (deliberate and unintentional).

Government transactions are slow and incur costs for citizens and companies. If you want to renew your passport, or Identity card and/or consumer other government services the paperwork alone can be cumbersome. Then there is the issue of in-person presence for the transaction to be completed. If you are lucky, it involves more than two trips for the task to be completed- otherwise it may take months! The list of requirements and lack of clear information also aggravate the issue.

Most government offices do not operate for extended hours and are closed on Monday and the people who work have to take off from office to tend to these transactions. Also, as most of the interactions are in-person, this translates into higher cost for the government as well.

The government needs to work on “Citizen experience” – a process wherein they gather data about all the point of contacts between citizens and government and make a knowledge-based report highlighting various flaws and problems. Overly complex regulatory requirements punctuate government transaction as well. There is a need to simply and standardize. Also, there isn’t any inter-institutional coordination subsequently engendering other related complications. Finally, corruption and power abuse, are rife. Even a peon can make or break one’s case.

Lara Goldmark, Founder of Just Results, has experience simplifying, harmonizing, and digitizing government-to-business transactions. She says that “It’s not all about corruption and bribes. Most often, the challenge is precisely because government agencies are trying to be responsible and respect the particular conditions that their license, authorization, payment, or other transaction requires. Since 2009 in Morocco and in 24 countries around the world, we have worked with an incredibly simple definition that is user-centric. A transaction always involves a form to be filled out, a signature, a fee, and associated documents. That’s it. No reason to complicate it more! Back office handlers can apply technical and legal restrictions, but the end-user needs to see a simple screen with always the same format.”

Digital Transactions are the way forward. According to research, such transactions are, on average, 74 percent faster and evidently help reduce the chances of power abuse or corruption -as the process of standardization gives everyone equal access to the provision and/or service. These are also cheaper, as per different estimates costing less than 1.5 to 5 percent of in-person transactions.

The implementation of such a system itself is best organized in phases. The first phase has to do with organizing the information and agreeing on a process by which government agencies will collaborate to harmonize, simplify, and digitize administrative procedures. This can be done on paper or in digital form. Advanced platforms are not needed to make transactions simple for businesses and citizens; a separation of front office and back office functions means that users can encounter a familiar set of forms to fill out, instructions on signature, attachments and payment, and receive an authenticated paper or e-approval from the government. Once agreement is reached on how the transaction should be experienced by the user, choice of technology becomes relevant; for each technological tool the government will want to consider carefully whether to make or buy. Services to citizens and businesses do not require heavy systems and infrastructure; this is, rather, a myth that many technology companies would have government agencies believe.

To be fair, the government has started to give attention to digitization. E-Government Directorate has put forward a “E-Government Strategy Five Year Plan” focused on providing better, efficient services to the general public. In December 2019, “Digital Pakistan Initiative was launched by PM Imran Khan focused on improving access and connectivity for all Pakistanis and promoting digital literacy. Another initiative “Punjab Public Management Reform Program” aims to solve one of the most pressing issues: tax collection. It also promises to increase tax base and enhance transparency. ICT City App in Islamabad launched in March 2020 can provide services like vehicle registration, bill payments, and e-police.

While this is an encouraging trend there are many questions that still remain unanswered. We can continue to treat the symptoms forever but that will not yield any substantial, sustainable results. The only way to put our economy on a stable growth path is to start addressing our structural lacuna. We need to adopt and adapt to the contemporary trends and technologies otherwise we risk being stuck in this vicious cycle of ephemeral growth and chronic, sporadic downturns – for good.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Osama Rizvi

Quelle/Source: Daily Times, 27.06.2020

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