Inter-American Development Bank Believes Jamaica’s Proposed Transformation To A Fully Digital Economy Will Enhance Public Service Delivery
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner-Jones, believes Jamaica’s proposed transformation to a fully digital economy will enhance public service delivery and, by extension, the lives of persons accessing attendant provisions.
Among the potential benefits to be derived, she says, are the streamlining of benefits, so that they get to where they ought to be, and significant savings on transaction costs.
The IDB Regional Chief was speaking at the recent launch of the Companies Office of Jamaica’s (COJ) newly established Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
The online platform, which was launched by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, replaces the COJ’s ‘one-stop shop’ paper-based ‘superform’ that was introduced in 2014.
It will facilitate 24-hour business registrations at the agency’s website – www.orcjamaica.com, from any location globally.
Mrs. Turner-Jones said a 2018 IDB Study of Latin American and Caribbean countries showed that approximately 90 per cent of all government service transactions in these territories were done in person.
The data, she further said, showed that only four per cent of all government service interactions in Jamaica were conducted digitally, describing this as a very low number.
Mrs. Turner Jones said the study revealed that Barbados averaged the highest figure with 17 per cent, while Nicaragua only had a one per cent out-turn.
She contended that every single Jamaican ought to be able to access a government service digitally, particularly in light of Jamaica’s extensive mobile penetration and coverage.
She further argued that this is the world we are living in and there is no reason why most of what we want to do with the Government can’t be transacted on a mobile device,
Mrs. Turner-Jones said the IDB study also showed that the number of government services in Jamaica not involving multiple transactions was a mere 11 per cent, compared to 63 per cent in Uruguay.
Additionally, she said the data outlined that Caribbean nationals spend an average of four and a half hours to complete any government transaction in person, noting that this often involved visiting several agencies.
While noting that this betters the Latin American average of nearly six hours, Mrs. Turner-Jones maintained that “it’s really not good.”
In terms of cost, she said in developed countries, such as the United Kingdom, transactions done in person averaged $15 compared to 40 cents when done digitally.
Mrs. Turner-Jones noted that in Mexico, “which is probably a little more comparable to Jamaica,” the cost is $9 for in-person transactions versus 45 cents for the digital format.
She emphasised that this scenario “cannot continue… [and] shouldn’t be,” against the background of the onset of the technology-driven fourth industrial revolution, “because we know that [digitally] we can deliver services more efficiently.”
Noting Prime Minister Holness’ challenge in 2017 for a multi-stakeholder effort towards positioning Jamaica to become the Caribbean’s first digital economy,
Mrs. Turner-Jones said the eBRF’s launch represents a “really important first step in making this a reality.”
The Electronic Business Registration Form creation is a collaborative effort carried out under the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme in the Cabinet Office, with IDB funding support.