Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham today launched a $10.2 million e-government initiative, noting "Today marks a significant milestone for the Bahamas. Today we change the concept of service delivery by moving government services from the counter only to the computer screen also."
Persons are now able to renew driver's licenses, pay real property tax, access customer services and make vendor enquiries through the government's website, with applications for business licenses and payment of business licence taxes to be introduced within the next few weeks. "This is a fundamental change that could have tremendous benefits for our country," said the Prime Minister. In addition, the system provides for a vendor enquiry service for businesses and independent entrepreneurs who provide goods and services to the government. In addition, pending legislative changes, there will be alignment of fixed penalties with such payable online by theend of 2011. Also plans include - in the not-too-distant future -making available online applications for new and renewal work permits, payment of customs duties; payment of police character certificates; payment of passport applications; and payment of post office box rentals. The public and private sector participants at the launch took note of the deepening and broadening of the Government's efforts to create a service culture aided by cutting-edge technology and best practices in the public service.
The Prime Minister concluded "Our vision for The Bahamas is that investing in the use of technology to deliver public services will catapult our nation forward in the delivery of services to the Bahamian public. Our vision is that the Government's substantial progress in implementation of e-Government will serve as a catalyst to drive a new wave of the use of technology in all facets of the Bahamian economy."
Also speaking at the launch ceremony, Minister of State for Finance, the Hon. Zhivargo Laing said the newly-launched e-services platform will transform The Bahamas into "a more business friendly jurisdiction", with enhanced efficiency and productivity overall. It also is anticipated that increased Treasury revenues will be among the significant potential benefits accruing from the ease of online payments. While the Minister spoke to significant improvements in The Bahamas’ Ease of Doing Business rankings, the Prime Minister pointed out the Government’s intention to see positive changes in the UN’s e-government ranking; The Bahamas currently is ranked 65 out of 180 nations.
A new Department of Information Technology has been created within the Ministry of Finance. Last year the government signed a contract with IDA International, a consultancy arm of the Singapore government, to establish a comprehensive platform for delivering e-Government in The Bahamas. At that time, it was announced that the launch would take place in July, 2011.