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IDB executive: Digital government services one positive in pandemic

One of the positives of the COVID-19 pandemic is that governments around the region and the world have adapted very quickly to doing business in a more efficient way, going digital in many instances, said General Manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Therese Turner-Jones.

The government last year established the Digital Transformation Unit, having already allocated $20 million toward its efforts to make up to 200 government services available online.

Turner-Jones said the pandemic has forced governments to complete in three months what would usually take three years.

“And what I mean by that? For probably at least three years now countries around this region have been trying to move to a digital platform, meaning provide more services digitally so that public services can be delivered without having to physically go into an office. Whether it’s paying your taxes online or getting a business license online or getting a passport online, whatever public service you need to be able to access it in a way that’s safe, secure, efficient and quick and reduce the cost to government as well,” she said.

“And that’s been a big initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank and the work that we do in this region, to try to get governments to deliver their services more efficiently. What we’ve seen in the last four months under this pandemic is that a lot of government services have had to move quickly to a digital platform.”

During his contribution to debate on the 2020/2021 budget last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the digitization of government processes remains one of the top five priorities of the government.

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