Digital Government in the Bahamas
Published on February 09, 2023
Over the years, the Bahamas government has been working on different programs to maximize the benefits of ICT. However, not all of their efforts have been able to achieve great results except in the case of the digital transformation program. The Bahamas government’s digital transformation program has been making progress and outstanding achievements.
The Bahamas government has been implementing digitizing activities and programs over the years, but since 2020, more efforts have been pumped into it to tackle some challenges brought by the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, the Bahamas government has been attracting much attention for its digital transformation program. It is safe to say that the program has been achieving and is still achieving its goals. The program aims to increase competitiveness by improving government productiveness and facilitating business which it hopes to achieve by:
● Updating government procedures and making them accessible online to decrease the cost of government bureaucracy
● Making ICT more accessible to the public
● Increasing transparency in government and improving auditing and control mechanisms
The Bahamas Government Digital Transformation Programme is funded through a loan facility with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The Bahamas Government plans to allow residents to pay taxes with digital assets
Residents of the Bahamas may soon begin to use digital assets to pay for taxes, including the CBDC (central bank digital currency).
According to the office of the Bahamas prime minister, the Bahamas government will soon enable tax payment through digital assets. This will be achieved by working with the country’s central bank and the private sector. Also, the government plans to make crypto accessible to the citizens with the Bahamian dollar and improve the use of the country’s CBDC, the sand Dollar.
The government will make sure that digital assets are not used for tax evasion, and will ensure that the citizens abide by all applicable Tax information agreements (TIEA) and domestic laws and agreed OECD standards.
The Bahamas Department of Transformation and Digitization
The Bahamas government officially launched the Department of Transformation and Digitization (DTD) in November 2019. This program is designed to make all government services available through online platforms resulting in a smooth and effective business process both locally and internationally.
The project is funded by a $30 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is expected to be completed over six years. The project aims to improve competitiveness in the Bahamas and reduce the costs of doing business with the Government. When this project is completed, it will reduce the cost of red tape and delays, increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product through the financial service sector, attract businesses locally and internationally and improve transparency in government activities.
Additionally, government activities will be less susceptible to vulnerability and other issues that arise from a paper based system, such as the misplacement of documents and loss due to disasters (hurricanes, fires).
How does all of this affect the public and also local /international businesses? It means:
● Government services become available 24/7 and every day of the year, so long as there’s access to the Internet
● There will be access to more than 200 government services electronically
● There will be access to different services through a single platform which reduces time and cost in accessing government services
● There will be no need for people to assemble at government offices or agencies only on special occasions like updating their e-ID
● There will be increased transparency in the government, and the people will be able to have an accountable government
● Businesses will thrive more due to transparency in government and less red tape
● Personal data will be fully secured due to updated data protection and cybersecurity measures
● Open windows of opportunities to learn more digital skills
● Business registration will be less costly and faster
The department of transformation and digitization has been working with the passport office to ensure the seamless renewal of passports with the introduction of E-passports.
With this, individuals can now submit online the passport renewal application, pay online to complete the renewal process, and then wait to receive an e-notice of when to collect the passport from the passport office.
The Bahamas government also plans to bring this tech initiative to the cabinet Office and make it into an e-cabinet management system.
When there’s an e-cabinet system, all the operations run by the cabinet office become digitized. Also, there will be updated security measures to enable the ministers and permanent secretaries to deliver the best government services.
The benefit of ICT cannot be overemphasized, hence the need for the Bahamas government to invest more in it. Digitalization improves every part of the economy and makes governance more productive and efficiently.
About the Author
Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.
He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.
After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.
He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.
As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.
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