Business

Fiscal advances e-Governance agenda

Friday, December 20, 2013    

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GOVERNMENT recently announced the completion of the winding up of the Central Information Technology Office (CITO) and is now moving to re-position Fiscal Services as E-Government Jamaica Limited and empower it to provide general ICT services to the entire

public sector.

This comes as a critical stage in the government's e-governance push, which has as its overall goal being to streamline inter-governmental 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 programme that will allow the seamless transfer of information between Government ministries, departments and agencies 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 harmonisation 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, operators of Columbus Business Solutions (CBS), facilitates the connectivity needed to enable the vision of enhanced 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 among the fastest and most affordable on the island. In addition with edge cloud-based business solutions, Columbus is developing a sound reputation for helping both private and public sector organisations to reduce costs and increases business efficiencies.

Leroy Cooke, managing director at Fiscal Services, said 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 per cent uptime to all our clients with whom CBS facilitates our connectivity," Cooke said. 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 uptime 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.

Fiscal Services develops and manages several essential Government IT platforms, including the TRN system, revenue services computerisation and the Jamaica Tax Online Portal. These platforms allow 24-hour access to government services and allows for thecapture 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."

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