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Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation, Allyson West makes her contribution during debate on the Appropriation Bill, 2020 in the 3rd sitting of the Senate, yesterday.

A work from home policy is to be established, as digitisation will be fully embraced not only as a means of facilitation but also for diversification.

This was announced by Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation Allyson West in the Senate yesterday.

“The work from home is something that is here to stay and I think that it’s something that should be encouraged. It has a positive impact on our families when we get past the prospect of having to stay on 24 hours a day 7 days a week when we go back to normal life quote-unquote and we can come and go more freely having parents work from home some days of the week, must improve the relationship between them and their children,” said West during the Budget debate in the Upper House.

“Digital transformation is not just technology. It’s very much about people and how we work. We at the Ministry will work with the Minister of Labor to develop a national remote work policy,” said the Minister, who stressed that this would also reduce traffic congestion and pollution as result due to reduced commute.

This, she said, coupled with the plans to maintain blended learning after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, she said called for further digitalisation.

“We are forced to teach our students at home exclusively because we have to maintain social distancing for some time to come but even after, the even out of that changes and we can allow our students to go back to school. The Minister of Education has pointed out that the plan is to move towards a blended education. So there would be a combination of face-to-face learning and distance learning so that it will continue into the indefinite future which would mean that we have to ensure that all students have internet access and devices,” she said.

The minister explained that this was part of the reasoning for the reduction in taxes on devices such as laptops and tablets, as well as the attempt to improve internet accessibility across the country.

“If we are moving towards a digitalised space we have to ensure that all citizens continue to have access to the services that are being offered so that they must have access to broadband, they must have access to devices to allow them to do that or they would be excluded,” she said.

West noted that an assessment concerning the coverage of Trinidad and Tobago was last done in 2013.

“One is now overdue. So TATT working along with CSO will embark on that project and come back to us with information on where the gaps are in the coverage of broadband,” said West.

She added work was currently underway to expand broadband service to areas like Brasso Venado and St John’s Parish in Tobago, which currently doesn’t have that service.

West also announced the further expansion of the free TT WiFI project as well as the increase in the number of access centres, which she said had so far been used to good effect by students and even the elderly.