UN expert see benefits in e-government

The set­ting up of e-gov­ern­ment sys­tems can lay the foun­da­tion for a bet­ter open da­ta pol­i­cy, ac­cord­ing to Gabriel Gamez, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Sta­tis­ti­cal Di­vi­sion of the Unit­ed Na­tions. Pa­per-based sys­tems are out­dat­ed and on­ly cre­ate bu­reau­cra­cy, he said when he ad­dressed an In­ter-Amer­i­can Bank’s (IDB) Un­fol­low Cam­paign event at the Cipri­ani Col­lege of Labour and Co-op­er­a­tive Stud­ies in Val­sayn on Wednes­day.

“With pa­per, it can get lost, we can­not read them. e-gov­ern­ment helps not on­ly for sta­tis­tics. The idea is not to re­spond three times to the ques­tion but on­ly once and to share this in­for­ma­tion. So for the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, this is im­por­tant as busi­ness­es do not want to move to a coun­try which is very heavy in terms of ad­min­is­tra­tion and forms,” he said.

Gamez al­so un­der­scored the im­por­tance of da­ta and sta­tis­tics for bet­ter gov­er­nance in the Caribbean.

In a ques­tion and an­swer seg­ment fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, Ni­rad Tewarie, CEO of Am­Cham TT asked about the use­ful­ness of open da­ta.

“We have no open da­ta pol­i­cy and we have low lev­els of digi­ti­sa­tion of every­thing as records and da­ta. Of course, we have some trade da­ta, the util­i­ty of that is clear but oth­er things . . . da­ta in the health cen­tre that is the hard­est one. What can we fo­cus on and how do you think you can get the Gov­ern­ment to see that an open da­ta pol­i­cy un­der­pinned by an in­ter-op­er­a­ble sys­tem ap­pli­ca­tion for the stor­age of the da­ta would be ben­e­fi­cial?” he asked.

Gamez said a well struc­tured sta­tis­ti­cal of­fice and leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns this is im­por­tant.

“Some coun­tries took more than 18 months to have it. It is very im­por­tant to know who is the cen­tre of com­pe­tence in the coun­try and who can co­or­di­nate this de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Stream­lin­ing the agen­cies that do this is im­por­tant so that there will not be over­lap­ping of du­ties and tech­nolo­gies used, he ex­plained.

“In many coun­tries, every min­istry and agency is de­vel­op­ing in its lit­tle cor­ner a tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tion, so af­ter the prob­lem of da­ta trans­fer, then there is ac­cess to this. My ad­vice is to de­vel­op tech­nolo­gies that are rel­e­vant to all agen­cies and put in place sound in­sti­tu­tion­al set up in the coun­try for the use of this in­for­ma­tion,” Gamez ad­vised.

He said in many in­stances the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty and NGOs un­der­stand bet­ter the us­es of da­ta than peo­ple in state agen­cies.

“I can­not say it is al­ways the case but it is of­ten the case. Ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant. It is not on­ly when peo­ple are grown up but at school, we have to teach them sta­tis­tics. We have to change the men­tal­i­ty. Sta­tis­tics and da­ta are not a dark sci­ence,” he said.

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