January 2013

Challenges and Opportunities in e-Governance

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“I am touched by seeing the passion that technology arouses in people; this clearly indicates an awareness of the difference that technology will bring to their lives,” says Ernst & Young Managing Partner Uschi Schreiber in conversation with Nayana Singh

Provide us with an overview of the work that Ernst & Young (E&Y) is doing with governments worldwide.

E&Y works with government clients in several places. These clients belong to both developed economies as well as emerging markets. When it comes to emerging markets, the governments are facing the problems of poor infrastructure. The growing trends of  urbanisation is the result of more jobs being available in urban areas. This is resulting in increasing demand for education, in such places. In the emerging markets, the governments are facing very long term issues.

Some of these include critical issues such as ageing population. These developed economies face the need of replacing outdated infrastructure. To add to this, there is the challenge of very short term political cycles which make it difficult to carry out longterm plans.

We have witnessed our clients seeking new solutions to address tricky and difficult long term issues. There is also a third category of countries – the breakout of economies like Vietnam, Libya and Indonesia. Similar issues are being faced by these economies as well. These countries have to drive education, diversify the economy, encourage entrepreneurship and a create private sector market structures.

What steps must government of India take to bring improvement in the investment climate in India?

The investors look for confidence and stability in the countries they are investing in. The Indian Government and the other  governments of the emerging economies who are trying to attract investors must focus on building confidence and transparency.

How can technology make it easier for masses to access government services?

India has made great strides in using technology to bring government services to the masses. There is a tremendous move to provide government services technologically. This is a drive to provide internet services to people throughout the country, through mobile technology. The true potential of such trend is yet to be fully understood.

This trend might lead to creation of new apps, new jobs, and even whole new enterprises and entrepreneurial ideas, which are not yet heard of. These moves may be prevailing at many places of the world. In Indian context, it is being carried on an enormous scale. As such technologies are providing information to people, they can also be vehicles to bring social change.

What is E&Y’s outlook on growth?

The forecasts that I am coming across, indicate that the breaks in economy would continue to persist. However, India’s future is bright. India’s huge labour-force will provide impetus for its growth. When this labour force is equipped technologically, they will lead to job creation not only within the nation, but globally as well.

You recently had E&Y Global Government Leaders conference in Mumbai. What are the key takeaways from the conference?

The conference has reinforced our belief in our strength globally and our efficiency of functioning in both government as well as in public sector. We have the most intelligent workforce and we work with the best clients. Through the conference we got to know that our clients are looking for some new solutions. Some solutions have become really outdated with the government. We are working with the governments as their partners to develop those solutions.

What are the key areas that central and stage governments in India should focus upon for bringing about inclusive growth?

As far as my observation goes, the governments are focusing on some of the key issues centred on education, skill development, Information Technology, citizen engagement in government initiatives and such transformational initiatives. The government and the industry should work hand in hand to develop solutions. E&Y wants to work shoulder to shoulder with the government for when it comes to implementation to Information Technology in order to bring about change.

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