Government working to address digital divide
Port of Spain (CMC):
Finance Minister Colm Imbert says the Trinidad and Tobago government has been engaged in a series of reforms, including closing the digital divide, that seek to strengthen the overall economic management of the country.
The reforms are geared to creat a sustainable economic environment that would accommodate the generation of employment and opportunities for business development.
Imbert made the comments while he was speaking at the 14th Annual International Finance and Accounting Conference here last Friday.
“For example, the government’s Digital Agenda seeks to expand the financial inclusion landscape. In this area, unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done, as the statistics reveal that 72 per cent of businesses do not have a business bank account, 88 per cent of businesses do not accept digital payments, and 55 per cent of individuals do not have the knowledge to use mobile or Web online banking.
“This digital divide remains a concern, as not all citizens have equal access to the benefits of digital transformation. Added to this is the danger of cyberattacks and hacking, which have recently reared their head again.”
He said having a cashless and digital agenda must also continue, otherwise the twin-sland republic would be left behind.
Imbert added that the overall ambition is to make as many citizens and businesses knowledgeable and comfortable with digital banking and digital payment solutions to keep pace with the rest of the world.
Noting that the e-commerce sector has grown significantly, making it easier for local businesses to reach international markets, Imbert said the ability to trade and export goods and services online has opened up new revenue streams and opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
He also cited that the continuous upgrade of the Single Electronic Window (SEW) – TTBiz Link is an ongoing digitalisation of processes, all aimed at reducing the cost of businesses by allowing organisations to make online payments and directly download their approved documents in a timely manner.
Going forward, Imbert said, “In fiscal 2024, a further 14 new e-services on the platform are expected to be launched. Our e-government initiatives, together with increased online banking, and digital communication tools have streamlined processes, reducing bureaucratic inefficiencies and transaction costs. This, in turn, has boosted our competitiveness on a global scale.”
He maintained that challenges of cyberattacks should not be a deterrent for the future.
“And despite the problems caused by cyberattacks, we can’t stop now. We must simply install better cyber protection, maintain greater safeguards and far better systems for dealing with issues and informing the public when problems occur,” Imbert said.