Fix the simple things first
I am among the growing number of citizens who greet each grand pronouncement by our political leaders with a mix of cynicism and amusement.
A case in point is Minister Donville Inniss’ support for 24-hour business operations and particularly Government’s commitment to the use of technology in order to allow citizens to conduct business with Government on a 24-hour basis.
Yet Government’s recent opening of a Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) office at the Warrens Tower II is marked more by the difficulty in transacting business there, than by any improvement in facilitating the public in its transactions with Government.
Some of the problems users of the Warrens Tower II location have encountered include the BRA’s seeming inability to roster staff to meet peak demand flows such as occurs with payment deadlines for taxes, resulting in long lines and wasted man hours; the inability of the BRA office to handle administrative changes relating to motor vehicle and land tax transactions, necessitating a trip to another office to get these done; and the BRA’s non-acceptance of personal cheques and credit cards for payment of road taxes and licence fees, necessitating persons transacting business to carry sums of cash.
There is also the ability to complete one transaction (e.g. pay land taxes) but not another (e.g. pay car taxes) because of occasional computer malfunction relating to the second transaction.
I recognise that technology can be used to improve efficiency and the availability of services to the public, but until such time as Government is in a position to roll out a reliable technology system, it should focus on making it easier for citizens to transact their business, especially when it comes to paying monies to Government.
It’s no wonder Barbados has fallen in the global ranking on the Ease Of Doing Business (http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/barbados/).