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Opinion & Analysis

A digital future without barriers

by Daniel Ghio

It’s no secret that citizens do not enjoy having to visit to Government counters to conduct their administrative business. People work during Government business hours and businesses need to prioritise their time to be productive. Unfortunately, having to go to the ETB, tax office, licensing dept is a still an extremely cumbersome chore that can take up valuable amounts of your time.
This is why eGovernment can be a game changer for Gibraltar.
eGovernment was introduced back in 2014 and after 5 years, it hasn’t made any significant progress. The platform has remained more of a digitised library of forms as opposed to a seamless interactive hub for all administrative duties. For a nation that claims to want to jump on the digital and technological train, we can’t afford to ignore the importance of placing eGovernance as a priority, especially if we want to attract new business and cutting-edge industries to Gibraltar.
The implementation of an all-digital hub along with an enterprise resource planning platform is no doubt a mammoth task and Government have reportedly outsourced assistance to help make this a reality. This project has constantly been referred to as a “quantum leap for Government” but as of today and several years after undertaking the project in particular the ERP, the government Digital Transformation Project seems to be creating more problems than solutions and has costed the tax payer £7 million (to date), bringing about absolutely no efficiencies to the Civil Service. The same can be said for the Digital Services part of the project tasked with developing and launching the very much anticipated and needed eServices, none of which have materialised yet.
Together Gibraltar believes in a digital future with no barriers or bureaucratic red tape where businesses and citizens can conduct all their administration at the click of a mouse. If elected in to Government we would take a wide review and reform of the current eGov strategy with clearly set out goals to bring public facing services online and re-launch as a fully digitised online portal that that will allow the public to seamlessly complete all their administration online. We would consult with the relevant stakeholders such as the ITLD department and create a steering group to enable us to push out these services by involving all heads of departments and staff and ensure adequate training and guidance is given.
To make this happen we already have one piece of the puzzle: our e-ID cards. These cards can enable us to digitally sign documents and identify ourselves on an online platform. European countries such as Estonia have successfully launched numerous initiatives, and have managed to migrate 90% of their public services online. They are now available 24/7 and operate in a safe, convenient and flexible digital ecosystem. As a consequence, Estonia has reached an unprecedented level of transparency in governance, thus strengthening their people’s trust in the system. Estonia now saves over 1407 years of working time annually and has become a hassle-free environment for business and entrepreneurship.
A Together Gibraltar government would prioritise this initiative to empower our citizens and entrepreneurs, allowing them the freedom and flexibility to get on with the things that matter the most them. We want to build a new, modern Gibraltar that will be an example to the rest of the world on how we conduct our business and public services because we believe in a better way.

Daniel Ghio is a candidate for Together Gibraltar in the forthcoming election.

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