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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during the presentation of the party’s manifesto on Sunday night.

Chester Sambrano

The People’s National Movement (PNM) plans to use technology to end the use of paper books by school children.

As he delved into details of his party’s 2020 manifesto, PNM Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley said should they be re-elected they are aiming to have Ebooks implemented in all schools by 2022.

“Where our children would no longer be carrying 40 pounds of books on their backs but we will have electronic blackboards and writing boards in the schools and the children will have Ebooks.”

He said this will be easier for students to manoeuvre and to study from.

“That is where Trinidad and Tobago is going,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that this is not a new plan but just being accelerated.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for the use of technology in schools was highlighted as many classes had to be conducted online.

The digital push, Dr Rowley said, is also taking place in the public sector to make it easier to pay bills and conduct other business.

“Our expectation is that every government department will be interconnected and there will be an E-identity for every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and that would allow us to be able to identify and to interact with government departments and the private sector for that matter using our technology from our phones.”

He said this would negate the use of forms or even having to physically show up at government offices to conduct business.

“We are anticipating that by 2022, going through changes in 2021, that you will not be able to recognise the public service in Trinidad and Tobago or the way we do business.”

The areas for immediate digitisation are Passports, Motor Vehicle Registration and Driver’s Permits, Registration for Tax, Tax Returns, Tax Clearance and Payments, Licensing, including Liquor Licenses, Company Registration, Land Registry and Conveyancing, Social Grants (Salary and Income Support, Public Assistance, Food Cards, Disability Assistance, Rent Relief and Pensions.

In keeping with its technological push, the PNM, through its manifesto has promised to “remove all taxes on computers, mobile and digital equipment, cell phones, software, and accessories.”

The party also said it will facilitate funding by Government and commercial banks for tech start-ups and new tech businesses, through grants and Government-guaranteed soft loans with easy payment terms and simple qualification requirements.

For the PNM digital security is another key component and it is in this regard it said it will “invest in digital tools to fight crime and improve policing such as CCTV, CSI, body cameras, red-light cameras, mobile scanners, and other critical security technologies.”