The Road Traffic Department’s move to a cashless operation a bad idea

Dear Editor,

Please permit me to comment lightly on the disclosure by the minister of transport and local government during his mid-year budget debate contribution on the initiative by the Road Traffic Department to move to a cashless operation.

According to the minister, “the new system will enable better transparency in the department”.

He went on to say, “This will ensure a more transparent and accountable process. This effort, we believe, will further increase our revenue from the department.”

Whether the Road Traffic department moves to a cashless operation or not will have no bearing on the department’s transparency and accountability or lack thereof.

If the department is minded to be transparent and accountable in its operation or processes, it is irrelevant whether they are accepting cash or cashless; nor would this initiative increase the department’s revenue.

The minister and those statutorily responsible for administrating the road traffic regulations need to be reminded that while they are given the statutory power to implement measures (rules and regulations) to effectively manage the affairs of the department, they are required to do so with reasonableness.

If there is some deficiency in the administration at road traffic they would like to address, the measures taken to do so must be reasonable and proportionate.

They simply cannot say, “I am not taking cash from anybody and that is it.”

If a member of the public presents his or her vehicle to the Department of Road Traffic to be licensed or seeks to renew his or her driver’s license, and does not possess a means to pay other than cash, is the department going to refuse licensing their vehicle or renewing their driver’s license? Where else can they obtain this public service?

I doubt such a policy can survive judicial review and or intervention.

Furthermore why would any politician or public administrator implement a hard and fast policy that requires every vehicle owner or a holder of a driver’s licence in The Bahamas to subscribe to a debit or credit card provider or some e-payment device/medium to obtain a government service?

While I am not opposed to encouraging the public to the use of non-cash transactions at government facilities, I am, however, opposed to making it a policy that only non-cash transactions will be accepted particularly for a public service that is exclusively offered by road traffic.

Politicians and public administrators need to be more judicious in their policy formulation and not simply think inconsiderately of what suits their or their department’s convenience. Appreciate the limitations that exist among your constituents when attempting to introduce certain initiatives.

They ought to be about progressively expanding opportunities and choices for persons to conduct business with the government and not limiting or restricting the public’s ability to do so.

If the minister and or the controller of road traffic wants to be transparent and accountable, all the minister and the controller have to do is implement a policy and take active steps to be transparent and accountable. They need not eliminate the option for the public to conduct government business in cash.

If the Road Traffic Department has a difficulty accounting for its revenue or an issue with alleged dishonesty in its department, the solution is not to stubbornly require every vehicle owner or the holder of a driver’s license to possess a debit or credit card or some e-payment device/medium to pay for services.

Their first resort ought to lie in improving their internal controls and accounting, not seeking to bully their reform measures on forcing the public to modify their behavior in the manner you are seeking to do.

If a person wishes to pay for services by cash, why should that present a problem for the department?


Claude B. Hanna

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