Call to get serious about technology
Senator Esther Byer Suckoo has urged the public service to utilise the technology available for doing business and cut down on the “paper-passing”.
“There is too much paper transfer . . . still too much use of messengers having to transfer a paper file,” the Minister of Labour told yesterday’s meeting of the Senate. She said Government was spending a lot of money on information technology which should be employed to improve efficiency and output.
Byer Suckoo charged that money spent on IT had not yet translated into improvement in the way Government business was done and she was critical of the existing situation in which she said electronic documents could not be accepted by Government offices because they were not equipped to handle this form of transaction.
Moving the Second Reading of the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill in the Senate, Byer Suckoo called on the service to make a paradigm shift.
She noted that technological advancement was critical in light of the fact that the 2013/14 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum had rated Barbados 47th out of 148 countries in competitiveness. Technological readiness was one of the 12 pillars on which the report was based.
The Government Senator also encouraged support for local software developers whom she said were capable of meeting software demands which were currently being satisfied from external sources.
Enabling these entrepreneurs, Byer Suckoo said, would not only boost employment, but through their services the technology needed to promote economic growth would be more widely available.
Supporting the amendment, Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams said it would pave the way for improvement in processes such as payment of road tax and licence fees and especially doing business within the legal system.
He suggested there should be a task force to keep abreast of technological developments and influence the continual upgrading of relevant legislation according to those developments.
Abrahams criticised a system in which Barbadians were still having to stand in long lines at Government offices to pay fees and carry out other transactions and insisted the use of technology would cut down on time and frustration.
The Opposition Senator, who is an attorney-at-law, complained: “In this day and age we waste a lot of time standing in lines to do legal business; our clerks waste time going to the Registry to do a search or going to Corporate Affairs or going to the Land Registry.”
Abrahams’ plea in the Upper House was to “get serious . . . and embrace the technology that exists” if Government wanted to reduce the cost of doing business and strive for greater efficiency.