November 2006

Asia-News Review

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e-Community centre in Philippines town opens

Alicia town in the Philippines recently opened its e-Community centre aimed at providing access to citizens to a wide variety of services and opportunities using ICT. Napoleon S. Dy., Mayor of Alicia, said that the centre is a part of the National Computer Centre project in Cagayan Valley region. The centre has been specifically opened for Alicia residents seeking employment abroad. The centre would offer services such as Internet browsing and downloading, computer rental, Voice-Over-Internet-Phone (VOIP), CD burning, desktop publishing, scanning, computer tutorial, email, photocopying and other computer works and activities.

Besides Alicia, all the barangays (villages) in Bulacan province would now have access to the Internet as part of the government’s e-Governance initiative. Under the initiative called “Barangay Online Program”, initially computers have been distributed to 17 pilot barangays. There are plans to cover about 30 barangays in 2006, and the entire 569 barangays to be completed in 2007.

Meanwhile, the former Chairman of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) Ver Pena has accused the government of going slow in the implementation of the e-Government projects. Pena said that there were no proposed e-Government projects on the pipeline, and that the biggest problem remained about how to spend the US$1bn allocated for e-Government programme.

Top e-Government award for Korea

Korea bagged the top award for e-Governance system recently at the 7th International e-Government Forum held in France. The 3-day event saw the participation of 45 countries. Nations having the best records in the fields of e-Democracy, e-Public Participation and e-Governance are bestowed with the award. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said that ever since 2001 e-Governance initiatives are being undertaken in the country. Korea intends to bridge the information gap between cities and regional villages, and improving communications between the metropolitan administration, citizens and businesses. The ministry said that currently 305 e-Governments (www.invil.org) are operating countrywide, with plans to increase the number to over 800.

Now, e-Tickets mandatory for Chinese airlines

The China Air Transport Association (CATA) has made it mandatory for sellers to issue e-Tickets and instructed to stop providing paper tickets immediately.

This is in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s directive requiring its 261 member airlines to compulsorily begin issuing e-Tickets by 2007 end. The CATA directive would be currently applicable to domestic flights. Foreigners intending to buy domestic tickets would also be issued e-Tickets upon furnishing their passports. However, special passengers like infants and those flying to small airports without automatic check-in machines would continue to use paper tickets.

Over 20 e-Services being planned in Pakistan

Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, Pakistan’s Minister for Information and Technology, has stated that over 100 major urban centres would be provided wireless broadband services for laying the groundwork for provision of e-Services to the citizens soon. Leghari informed that the World Bank would provide US$125mn to Pakistan to fund projects aimed at increasing universal access in the country.

The government decided to increase teledensity and broadband penetration by setting up telecentres, which would provide over 20 e-Services in both urban and rural areas with the assistance of the private sector. Leghari also said that the ministry would be investing heavily into the content development in local languages, particularly Urdu which would be used as a medium of e-Services distribution. The proposed telecentres would provide e-Services and telemedicine facilities.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Sindh province government is into negotiations with a Malaysian company for awarding a US$500mn contract for the automation of its public service institutions. The proposed automation includes vehicle testing system and registration, computerisation of the police record, and Karachi Civil Hospital. The government would be taking up 24 police stations across the province during the first phase in order to test the impact of automation.

Thailand’s CustomsConnect to become fully operational soon

CustomsConnect provided by Citigroup for the Royal Thai Customs would become fully operational soon. Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the e-Customs tax payment services was signed between the Royal Thai Customs and Citibank Thailand as part of the e-Government policy of the Thai government. CustomsConnect, which is aimed at increasing the business efficiency, would facilitate the importers and exporters to handle customs tax payments through the Internet easily thus resulting in overall cost saving for the business operation of both
the importers and exporters. CustomsConnect contains several features such as the 24 x 7 customs tax payment enabling the tax payment after the bank’s operational hours, the email alert of payment status, invoice details and importer-exporter documentation.

In a separate development, a “One Stop Services” payment gateway has been launched by the Thai ICT Ministry and the Software Industry Promotion Association (Sipa) after the technology was piloted for one year in Phuket at http://www.thaionestop.org. The portal, which is SOA (Services Oriented Architecture) based, would provide partners with a secure, low-cost and effective means to offer online or one-stop services. According to Sipa, one stop services portal is a gateway to e-Government through which people would have access to easy payment for their utilities, healthcare, immigration, education and employment services.

Payment reminders through email, mobile phones in Taiwan

The Government of Taiwan has decided to send bills and payments reminders to its citizens through email and mobile phones.

The move comes in the wake of people’s complaints that the tax bill or traffic fine sent to them usually got lost in the mail. Shih Nenchieh, a Cabinet official in charge of planning and research, said that the service would be inaugurated in December this year, and would alert citizens to pay their bills and tickets before they are due by integrating various government websites. The service is a part of Taiwan’s decade long effort to put government services and information online. According to the World Economic Forum 2006 report, Taiwan’s online government service ranks fourth in the world, after Singapore, Denmark and Estonia.

‘Need to create QCC portal in Brunei’

Dato Paduka Haji Abd Rahman Haji Mohiddin, Brunei’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, while addressing 3-day Quality Control Circles (QCC) convention said that QCC plays a crucial role in helping civil servants improve their work performance and competency, and uphold their work ethics. This can be done only by improving the status of QCC by taking advantage of modern technology especially by using ICT and e-Government programmes.

Mohiddin said, “There is a need to create a QCC portal equipped with a systematic and comprehensive data vault that is easily accessible thus providing the chance for all civil servants to analyse and make use of the best methods that have been practised by exemplary organisations that have had previous successes with their QCC projects. This will allow for a simpler way of sharing knowledge in the QCC community, and the speedy exchange of information and innovative ideas will undoubtedly increase the professional interaction in the civil service.” It may be recalled that the concept of QCC was introduced in 1984 and has since been employed as a management tool in the civil service.

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