|Monday, 12 May 2003|
|Politics||Today's Top Story|
by Ravi Ladduwahetty
Minister of Economic Reforms, Science and Technology Milinda Moragoda, addressing the inaugural e-Government conference at the BMICH on Friday, said that e-Government will change the public service beyond all recognition in the next few years and that the new technology will enable us, possibly for the first time to create a responsive and user-friendly government that can in a transparent, efficient and speedy manner both serve the public as well as streamline the work of government administrators.
This is Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's vision, he said.
Stressing on the tangible benefits of the process, he said that e-government will help reduce corruption in the system, but equally one might hope that there will be no need for corruption as pay and conditions improve.
As a result future governments will not be able to blame or to punish public servants for political reasons because this new form of Government will not allow us politicians to hide behind public servants in the way we may have done in the past, he said.
It will mean the empowerment of the people and the opportunity for you to listen to feedback. The Citizens Charter Act proposed by our Prime Minister will seek to provide better government. It will do this by scrutinising the time taken to process applications and answer enquiries, the way in which the public are treated in Government offices and the rights of the citizen to better access to information and help with making applications.
With the new processes of e-government you will have nothing to fear from this new Act and everything to gain from providing a better service. However should any fall down on their job then there will be the facility for the public to seek better service in future, the Minister said.
He said:" The conference was about creating a public service that can seize the opportunities that technology presents towards problem- solving in the aim of serving the public better.
It is about a public service that recognises that the existing system has failed that public and which will work using these new tools to improve the daily lives of those it serves, which will in turn create more opportunities for the nation as a whole to improve the economy and the welfare of its citizens.
You might be forgiven for thinking that we are meeting today to discuss your future as public servants. We might be doing that because as citizens of Sri Lanka you have rights as does every other person in the country.
But on this occasion you would be wrong. We are here today to discuss the world in which your children will work and how we can place them with a significant advantage in their relationship with the rest of the world.
We are also here today because in the past all of us have failed. Failed at delivering those services which all Sri Lankans have a right to expect. As well as rights we have responsibilities and we, the politicians and public servants have failed the people. Unless we do something about it now we will have failed our future generations too.
Today is the day when we have been given a chance to make a fresh start. A new beginning where we can re-write the rules and create a better world for those we all serve.
The future shape of the world is one where peoples and countries will work together and where communication lines are shortening. Those countries who chose to ignore this reality will end up as failures.
Whilst those nations which grasp the opportunity will be able to expand their potential to create effective government and not fall behind as the possibilities that technology presents take others forward to greater heights.
Many young people today are experiencing the excitement and feeling of empowerment that the access to knowledge that this age of instantaneous information and inter-connectivity offers them. Anyone with access to a computer, can virtually hop from place to place anywhere in the globe at their whim and fancy from the portal of their computer.
No ministry will be able to work any longer in the isolation from other ministries.
Cooperation and collaboration will be the key words. As we build this new e-government, we will encounter many problems which will have to be solved. But as the process continues, you will find your work to be more streamlines and your access to knowledge increased dramatically. The standards of your product will rise because you will have more access to information.
Your ability to speed up the processes of government will increase enormously. You will be freed from the boring drudgery of routine tasks and left with more time to innovative and create new ideas. And perhaps most important of all, you will achieve levels of efficiency never before dreamt of.
Secretary to the Ministry of Policy Development and Implementation Charitha Ratwatte, delivering the welcome address, said that e-government will bring the Government closer to the people. This is the last chance that Sri Lanka has to integrate with the world and the tangible benefits will be seen with the passage of time, he said. The development of these systems will also see Sri Lanka getting the tangible benefits from the positive social indicators, he said.
Prof. Carlos Primo Brago of the World Bank who is in Sri Lanka as the Director of the Information Solutions Group also addressed a presentation under the theme: "Government in the Information Age."
Produced by Lake House