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Senator Allyson West, Minister of Public Administration & Minister in the Ministry of Finance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not prevented the public sector from servicing citizens.

This is according to Public Administration Minister Allyson West and 1st Vice-President of the Public Services Association Ian Murray, who both confirmed that the sector remains running despite restrictions.

For years there have been debates about bringing the public sector up to speed with the digital era and now former head of the Public Service, Reynold Cooper said COVID-19 presented the state with no other choice.

In an interview with Guardian Media, he said, “A lot of work should be done online so that people don’t have to wait in line to do things like full out forms”.

Minister West told Guardian Media restrictions to flatten the curve have thrown the sector into the information and communications technology space.

But this has been no easy feat, according to the Public Administration Minister who said there was resistance from both public servants and members of the public.

The Minister believes there are two factors at play.

“I think it’s a combination of people being wary of their lack of competence in the area, their unwillingness to themselves and their concern for their jobs because the general perception is that once ICT moves in people are moved out”, she said.

Neither Minister West nor the P-S-A Vice President could estimate how many public servants are now required to work from home.

Unsure of when the pandemic will subside, the Minister insisted the workflow continues.

“I do not think that most of that will have to slow down because of what has happened with the pandemic,” she said.

Minister West added, “The information is available in the system and the public can access it but the only thing that may be interrupted is if and when individual public servants need documents and I don’t know to what extent that happens”.

The PSA 1st Vice-President noted that the pace of processing may not be the same.

“All Ministries have been declared essential services more or less so they continue to operate but not to the pace we are accustomed to,” he stated.

As for transactions such as the renewal of a driver’s license or identification card, deadlines were automatically extended.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan told Guardian Media 43,966 Drivers’ Permits were due for renewal during the time of the Stay-At-Home order.

He said the system at the Licensing Division is being adjusted to ensure there is no crowding when the service resumes.