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Friday, 31.05.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001
Barbadians are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that the deadline for filing taxes has passed. This year, we were presented with a new experience as the option to file income taxes online became available for the first time. This was greeted with much apprehension from many members of the public, while others welcomed this change of pace and refreshing upgrade to the way business is done in Barbados. However, as with many new ventures, the introduction to online filing did not come without hiccups.

Minimal communication at the start of filing led to many Barbadians on both the employee and employer sides having difficulty in completing the online process. Meanwhile heavier than anticipated web traffic led to persons being unable to access the website at times. These mishaps contributed to the Inland Revenue Department’s decision to extend the filing deadline to May 15.

Nevertheless, it is appreciated that change is not perfect. Whenever a system is changed or in the process of being changed, one can expect some misunderstanding or miscalculation from both the party responsible for implementing the change and from the party that has to grapple with the change.

Commendable move

Despite the hiccups, the department must be commended for their commitment to progress as Barbados moves toward e-governance. This is the “public sector’s use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with the aim of improving information and service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making government more accountable and effective” (UNESCO website).

In February, head of the Commonwealth Connects Secretariat Governance and Institutional Development Division, Anthony Ming, said that national ICT strategies must work in conjunction with national development plans and objectives. Harlow Broomes, Deputy Principal Training Officer at the local Training Administration Division, while agreeing, also noted that ICTs are important for regional economies in order to improve customer service and efficiency by reducing waiting times.

Keep up pace

However, these goals can only be realised after much effort and practice. One striking factor which contributed to the confusion in filing was a resistance to change on the part of some sectors of the population. With the increasing use of and dependence on technology worldwide, Barbados cannot afford to be left behind. It is natural to be cautious when approaching new and unfamiliar territory, but we must be determined to improve in order to keep up with the pace of development, because “online public service delivery is an emerging reality worldwide, and more participative, networked and transformational governance models are appearing as well” (UN).

According to the United Nation’s E-government Readiness Index 2008, Barbados is listed in the top 50 countries at number 46, ahead of any other Caribbean country, with Trinidad and Tobago listed at the 54th position. This is remarkable because Barbados shares this Top 50 list with countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Barbados has come a long way with regard to the use and development of ICTS. However, the country’s growth is dependent on our support and with the strides that we have made thus far, we can only reap positive rewards in the future.

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Quelle/Source: The Barbados Advocate, 24.05.2009

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