Online tax system in Czech Republic soon
In an attempt to develop the e- Government system rapidly, the Czech Republic’s Finance Ministry has decided to launch a web portal in H206 to ensure efficient tax collection from businesses through online tax reports submission. The proposed new system has been widely welcomed by businesses organisations. The portal would be developed by IBM at an estimated cost worth CZK70mn (US$2.9mn). Initially, the portal would only allow companies to monitor the balance of tax accounts, but would later on facilitate full online communication between financial authorities and businesses. The new system is expected to significantly streamline both the paperwork and procedures for submitting corporate tax returns while ensuring transparency at the same time.
Earlier, in the fall of 2003 ecommunications was launched between state offices and the public by the government. According to a study made by The Economist magazine in late 2004, the Czech Republic has been acknowledged as the most developed country in the region in terms of the spread of e-Government. Even, a report by the European Commission stated that the Czech e-Government system was clearly above the EU standard.
Jamaica’s move towards e-Government
Philip Paulwell, Jamaica Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, has said that Jamaica is fast moving towards a paperless system of Government and Jamaicans would soon be able to have easier access to government and its services through the use of information communications technology (ICT). The Minister pointed out that with faster broadband system being put in place, there would be even greater commitment to e-Government. Paulwell said this recently while speaking at Government Communications Group-organised discussion on ‘Going for growth and development through ICT’ at Jamaica House. “The “12-lane highway for broadband”, which is being created by government, would allow for speedier and cheaper access to the Internet and a full range of e-commerce transactions. The success of the e-government project, now being undertaken, hinges on the provision of adequate bandwidth, which would allow persons to take advantage of the full range of government services being offered online. People have been complaining about access to government, transparency of government; we are going to enable Jamaicans to have easier reach of government through ICT and it has already started.”
Antigua and Barbuda NSWMA launches official website
Antigua and Barbuda’s National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) recently launched its official website, www.solidwaste.gov.ag, created in association with the government’s IT Centre and the Ministry of Health after a seven-year planning period, and is part of the government’s agenda to develop e-Government. Through the website, the students and teachers would be able to access information about waste management authority and use it as a research tool.
Bulgarian parents for e-Textbooks
According to a Bulgarian Education Ministry survey, 75% of the parents in Bulgaria have supported the idea for the introduction of e-Textbooks and Internet in schools. The parents felt that e- Textbooks would not only educate children about working with a computer but would also induce them to study more in general. The Education Ministry also announced that the local high schools in the country would soon be equipped with electronic textbooks in thirty of the subjects. Also, a test educational web portal would be opened by the middle of May this year where students would be able to access the textbooks.
Finland to have new e-Government coordination unit
To provide the much-needed boost to e- Government interoperability between different tiers of government, the Interior Ministry of Finland has decided to create a new unit ‘KuntaIT’ to coordinate the compatibility of e-Government services between municipal and regional authorities. The new unit would begin functioning from 1st September 2006 with full operations being established by 2007. The new unit would aim to bring an increase in the efficiency of public administration and ensure availability and quality of public services by relying on information and communication technologies.
e-Passports in Botswana soon
The Botswana government would introduce machine-readable passports in 3-4 months to address the issue of stolen passports and fight identity theft. Oliphant Mfa, Assistant Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, lately announced in Gaborone.
However, it is still unclear what system Botswana intends to use for its passports. Of late, 3D face recognition has become a popular option for the use of biometric identifiers in many countries. It may be recalled that the use of automatic identification technology in passports was firstly used by the United States after the 9/11 events. In November 2005, the first biometric passports were issued to British diplomats, and more such trials have taken place in Paris and Washington. In January 2006, the US launched a second test of its electric passport initiative. The smart passport tests were also carried out in San Francisco International Airport, Changi Airport in Singapore and Sydney Airport in Australia.
Kazakhstan to expedite e-Government implementation
Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhastan, in an address to the joint session of Parliament stressed that the Government need to speed up the process of introducing e – G o v e r n m e n t urgently. “This would increase effectiveness of state bodies’ activity and decline corruption and administrative barriers,” he said. Earlier, Askar Zhumagaliyev, head of Kazakhstan’s Information and Telecommunications Agency, said that Kazakhstan would put into effect its e- Government system in mid-April. Mr Zhumagaliyev said, “Already some 32 of the 34 state bodies and institutions have their own websites thus forming the infrastructure for implementing the e- Government portal. The people of Kazakhstan can take advantage of the portal’s interactive information services, such as obtaining tax declaration forms and licenses over the Internet, and online shopping. In addition, all Kazakh residents will be assigned identification numbers, which are to be quoted in their new passports and other documents. This electronic number will help identify the person on the Internet, and serve as an access key to officials and various services.”
In Australia, e-Tax system to be revamped
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) officials have indicated that the e-Tax system would soon be revamped in Australia. According to the officials, the revamped e-tax system would expand on current functionality that allowed taxpayers to download Centrelink payment summary and Medicare medical expense data into their electronically-filed tax return, eliminating the need for manual inputs. Future connectivity to client e-return preparation applications and commercial record keeping applications would also be allowed by the redeveloped system, which would be available for piloting from the lodgement season starting 1st July 2007.
Bahamas MOH launches website
The Bahamas Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched its official website, www.bahamas.gov.bs/health, aiming to provide efficient public healthcare system. Dr Marcus Bethel, Minister of Health, informed about the website at a press conference and said, “The Ministry of Health has long been about making healthcare person-centered [services]accessible to all residents, regardless of where they live in The Bahamas. The website is a part of the government’s recently launched e-Government initiative. It is all about co-ordinating health services around the needs of people, rather than service types professional boundaries or organisational structure. It’s about health system reform that anticipates future growth and technologies, consumer and market trends and building capacity in the community, as a means of improving access to healthcare,” and added, “Thisis merely the first phase of our four phase/ three year project. I hope that after thecompletion of phase four of the project, that is, the creation of chat rooms, esurveys and all services made as E-facilitated as possible, our dream would be reality.”
Currently, the web surfers would be able to access step-by-step instructions regarding critical healthcare services online, email concerns or health education questions and access community health clinic schedules. At a later stage, the website would also provide option of making appointments to see the public healthcare providers online, besides distance education about breast-feeding and labour to expectant mothers.
e-Government programme in France restructured
The French government has effected major changes in its e-Government programme. Jean-Francois Copé, France’s minister in charge of the budget and administrative reform, said the government wanted to do away with theproliferation of eAdministration agencies over the past few years, and has integrated four government agencies into one to simplify and standardise the effort. Accordingly, France’s national agency for developing electronic administration, known by its French acronym as ADAE, along with three other government agencies have been brought under one roof – the new Directorate-General for State Modernisation (Direction generale de la modernisation de l’etat – DGME), which opened its doors on 3rd January 2006.
Frank Mordacq, newly-appointed DGME Director, said, “DGME’s workforce consists of 160 specialists drawn from all other ministries, as well as from the private sector and from abroad.They are grouped into three divisions responsible for quality and simplification, modernisation of government functions, and development of eAdministration.”