Minister of State for Finance Senator Kwasi Thompson revealed yesterday the government’s plan to roll out the digitization of the Road Traffic Department and Registrar General’s Department during the first quarter of 2021, which would allow for the renewal of driver’s licenses and the ability to obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates online.
The promotion of a digital economy and the digitization of government services was one of the recommendations made in the Economic Recovery Committee’s (ERC) executive summary on ways to rebuild following Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 economic crisis.
Pointing to the smooth rollout of the digitized passport renewal process, Thompson said broader digitization would make it easier for the public to interact with the government.
“In the first quarter of next year, at least five additional government services will go online, including the renewal of driver’s licenses and the ability to obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates online,” he said during a virtual press briefing on the recently released 2020 Fiscal Strategy Report.
“Going into 2021, Bahamians throughout the country will see these changes manifested at the Road Traffic Department, the Registrar General’s Department, the Department of Social Services, the Judiciary Department, the Ministry of Finance and Department of Immigration.”
Speaking to the impact of those digitized services on government expenditure, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said online services would translate into savings.
“The idea really is containing the growth in public expenditure. On the recurrent side, the notion here is to contain the growth in public sector employment with exceptions made for the uniformed branches and certain key professional elements within government. Where the savings are expected to be realized is that over time, the number of clerical positions will move away as we move toward digitization,” Johnson said.
“The minister spoke at great length about that, insomuch that digitalization means that you as the consumer will be able to be on your phone or your computer and complete government services. And that means over time, the need for clerical level work will go away.”
The ERC also recommended the creation of a national digital marketplace for small businesses and other entrepreneurs to be able to trade their goods and services, to help broaden the digital economy.
Thompson said Bahamians must embrace technology and innovation.
“The government is also supporting Bahamians who might not have adequate access to the digital skills needed to participate inclusively in the digital economy,” he said.
“We are investing in skills development and education.”
Last week, the DevNet Software Development Program was launched on Grand Bahama, which promises to train 100 locals in software development.
The program is being facilitated through a partnership between the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and Cisco Systems.