Deborah Fletcher: Good move by Companies Office
I write in response to an article published on Thursday, August 20, 2015 titled 'Companies Office of Jamaica aiming for world-class standards'. First, the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) has realised that in this Information Age, it is critical for the nation to use the technological resources available to deliver goods and services to citizens in an effective and efficient manner and for that the organisation must be commended.
This move has not only promoted ease of registering companies, but will also serve as a motivator for other government organisations delivering goods and services to become more efficient in the way they offer services. Several countries across the globe have recognised government offices should strive to provide SMART services. By SMART, I mean:
Seamless: Seamless services provide linkage and integration among various government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). No longer does a prospective business man/woman need to take the trek to Tax Administration Jamaica, NIS office, HEART Trust and the National Housing Trust to complete the registration process to start a business. Instead, that prospective businessman can access all those agencies through the Companies Office.
Mobile: Mobile government services are services that are accessible anywhere at the users' convenience. The portals being established by the COJ ought to allow any business person to register his/her company either from the confines of his/her room in Claremont or from a community access point located in Jack's Hill, or anywhere in Jamaica, for that matter.
Anytime: The COJ plans to roll out its online services by December. However, if we are to keep abreast of current best practices, it is hoped that the services will be made available to the public anytime, be it 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. on a Monday or on a Sunday.
Real Time: Currently, an individual can have his/her business registered in Jamaica within one business day. This is an indication of services being offered in real time and puts the COJ almost on par with other developed countries. Notwithstanding this, it is hoped that through its online system, the COJ can further reduce the time taken to register companies. If the COJ were to reduce registration time to four hours, for example, it will be almost on par with countries such as New Zealand and Singapore where ,based on the World Bank Doing Business Report, it takes 0.5 and 2.5 days to start a business in each respective country.
Together means that at the end of the day, everyone comes out a winner - both the customer and the service provider.
Second, this move by the Companies Office shows that there can be some amount of integration and collaboration between MDAs, which can serve to increase efficiency while reducing inefficiency in an effort to promote the development of our country. Today, the world is seen as a small village, and like companies, countries are being forced to seek out a niche and maintain their comparative advantage.
NEED T COPY MODEL
As such, Jamaica's MDAs need to copy the COJ and work together, so that more one-stop services can be provided. For example, as a country, we need to rid ourselves of the voluminous ministry and agency application process that we have and replace those systems with batch processing. Batch processing will allow for the collection of multiple types of information using one form, from which each agency can pull required information.
The Republic of South Korea, for example, has used Korea Online E-Procurement System, a system developed by the Government, to create a link between MDAs as well as link MDAs to private organisations. The system provides services such as business licensing, payment of taxes, contract information, procurement services and public bonds. Having these services from varying ministries available in one place, in the case of Korea, acts as a catalyst for growth of the local economy, increases transparency and raises efficiency.
As a country, the COJ has hoisted the flag and has started the process of increasing productivity. The COJ has shown that partnership between MDAs is possible. Therefore, as a nation, let us support initiatives such as the ones undertaken by the COJ so we can enhance how the public sector delivers its services.
In this age where technology can make processes easier, the public sector should strive to make services accessible anywhere from any device. For those services that are already available on line (payment of traffic tickets, birth registration, taxes and the rest), let us educate the members of the public so that more people can utilise services online.
- Deborah Fletcher is enrolled as a student at the Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, where she is studying global e-policy and e-governance. She formerly worked as a community development officer with the Social Development Commission. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.