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Jamaica Moving Closer to Realizing Full E-Government Service

jamaica 2Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, recently announced that the government has completed winding up the Central Information Technology Office and is now moving to reposition Fiscal Services as E-Government Jamaica Limited and empower it to provide general information and computer technology services to the entire public sector.

This comes as a critical stage in Jamaica’s E-governance push, which has an overall  goal to streamline intergovernmental as well as government-to-public information flow and management processes.

The role of Fiscal Services is to focus on the implementation of GovNet, a program that will allow the seamless transfer of information between government MDAs and other stakeholders. Over time it is anticipated that via GovNet, government agencies will provide a suite of online services to the public and in so doing improve the ease of doing business with government.

FSL’s mandate includes the harmonization of ICT infrastructure and systems across the public sector and strengthening the capacity of public institutions to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services.

Critical to the success of the delivery of services online by government entities is reliable broadband connectivity. Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited, operators of Columbus Business Solutions, is increasingly seen as the option for the kind of connectivity to enable the vision of enhance E-business.

With distinct advantages of its business services and solutions resting on its broadband infrastructure, the most modern in the region, Columbus offers connectivity solutions that are the fastest and most affordable on the island. In addition, with leading edge cloud-based business solutions, Columbus is developing a sound reputation for helping both private and public sector organizations reduce costs and increases business efficiencies.

Leroy Cooke, Managing Director for Fiscal Services, says that this is an important factor for achieving many of the goals of his organization.

“Since establishing our relationship with CBS, we have been effective in providing approximately 99.99 percent uptime to all our clients with whom CBS facilitates our connectivity,” says Cooke.

He pointed out that the importance of having a reliable network cannot be underestimated as when the Internet is down, communications will stop and productivity, revenue collections and the efficiency of operations is severely compromised.

Cooke reiterated that having achieved considerable high up-time with CBS means there has been no noticeable disruption to Internet services provided for its client agencies. The government agencies have enjoyed continuity of service to enable inter- and intra-department and agency communications, the successful conduct of online transactions and delivery of service to the public by their operations without hindrance.

The devastating impact of a loss of connectivity on the average consumer who transacts business with a government agency was recently illustrated in October when millions of people across 17 U.S. states were unable to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase their groceries. News reports said the groceries had to be returned to shelves as the store merchants were unable to process the payments due to the system outage. This incident highlights the importance of having stable and reliable connectivity and the widespread impact this can have on users.

jamaica 1FSL develops and manages several essential government IT platforms including the TRN system, revenue services computerization and the Jamaica Tax Online Portal. These platforms allow 24-7 access to government services and allows for the capture of additional revenues. Tax compliance has been one area that the government has struggled with and according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Jamaica is currently ranked 90th down from its 85th place ranking in 2012.

Establishing the platform that facilitates online payment at the customer’s convenience is one way in which the GOJ is seeking to improve its ranking in this critical global investment index. The effort is already bearing fruit as Jamaica improved in the specific ranking of paying taxes by 11 places moving from 174 to 163 in the 2013 Edition of the Doing Business Report; the only variable where a positive movement was recorded.

“The services offered are stable, reliable and of a high quality. CBS services are competitively priced and are among our preferred service providers,” said Cooke in his endorsement of the service provided by Columbus to Fiscal Services.

“We’ve worked closely with the team at Fiscal Services to ensure that the connectivity provided by our broadband network enables the digital interaction between the various government agencies and departments and the people they serve,” said John Clear, vice president for Columbus Business Solutions.

“Our mission is to deliver the network services and solutions to enable all public and private sector businesses to be more efficient at providing services to their clients.”

Clear says that CBS offers several cloud based solutions to enable Jamaican enterprises of all sizes to increase business efficiencies by reduced operating costs.

“Our network is a platform from which all public and private sector organizations across Jamaica can reliably, cost effectively and efficiently deliver service to their clients. In addition to these network services the CBS suite of Cloud Services further enhances the ability of organizations here to leverage the most advanced managed solutions at a fixed monthly rate.”

 

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