The Barbados government has collected approximately $1.9 million through the eZpay service.
This disclosure came today from Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service, Alyson Forte, at the relaunch of the Barbados Integrated Government Portal and Government’s eZpay platform at Baobab Tower.
Mr. Forte added that all payments to the National Insurance Scheme could also be made using the service and disclosed that a substantial sum had already passed through the payment system.
He said: “We anticipate that in time we will be able to extend this service, us import data and find more and better agencies, making doing business with Government more convenient and efficient for locals, as well as prospective investors.
“We hope that this objective will be made much easier with the roll out recently of a Wide Area Network by the Ministry of the Civil Service to some 30 Government agencies. This is part of a programme to provide the backbone necessary to improve the cost and ease of connectivity across the public service, thereby unlocking the doors to the provision of numerous ICT services by Government.”
The Acting Permanent Secretary explained that eZpay provides a secure, expedient means for persons to pay monies owed to Government agencies, including taxes, duties and other fees. “It is a convenient way for individuals and businesses to pay the various agencies from virtually anywhere by using the internet,” he remarked.
Underscoring the importance of the portal, Mr. Forte said there were increasing demands by citizens for easier access to information from Government to facilitate decision-making, conduct research or simply stay informed of Government’s plans and policies.
He stressed that provision of these citizens-centric services in a timely and efficient manner was the main focus of the Integrated Government Portal, and urged Barbadians, visitors and those interested in doing business or conducting research to make use of it.
Acting Director of the Data Processing Department, (DPD) Eustace Russell, said he expected many Government agencies to capitalise on the eZpay innovation to enhance access to the fiscal side of their operations and provide for end-to-end online transactions. He stated that achievements in Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) would mean very little if they did not benefit everyone.
“We cannot permit a digital divide to persist, whether it is between rich and poor, young and old, or rural and urban communities. To nip this naturally occurring phenomenon in the bud, the Data Processing Department has set out to make the access to broadband and cellular networks play its part in making life easier for all.
“In order to bridge the digital divide, we must provide services to traverse the pathways of cyberspace to the web-connected gadgets in the hands of the elderly and infirmed,” he suggested.
Mr. Russell noted that Government had expressed a desire to develop the ICT-enabled services industry, as well as improve efficiency and transparency of its functions through e-government applications, where appropriate.
“DPD has already investigated partnerships with Government and private sector companies to simplify transactions that cross between the two, and in the near future, we can expect that a service like car insurance will no longer require physically trekking between bricks-and-mortar constructs,” he stated.
Mr. Russell cautioned, however, that as substantial investments were made in the ICT sector, they must be tailored to meet the demands of civil society.