“The Royal Thai Government’s Ministry of Finance is successfully using IT tools for fiscal and monetary planning, budgeting and analysis,” tells Supachai Jongsiri, Information and Communication Technology Advisor, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Finance, Royal Thai Government, in an interview to Dipanjan Banerjee of egov.
Can you briefly throw light on the ICT policy of Ministry of Finance?
The ICT policy of Ministry of Finance, Thailand, strongly focuses on computerising and integrating the operations of the Ministry as well as that of other departments and offices under its authority, through efficient use of technology. We are already using IT tools to perform our Fiscal and Monetary planning, budgeting and analysis. Apart from that a number of services of the Ministry have been made available online. Particularly, with regard to taxation, initiatives like e-Revenue, e-Customs and e-Excise are running quite successfully.
What is the role-played by the ICT Centre of Ministry of Finance?
The ICT Centre of Ministry of Finance plays a major role in enhancing the overall working efficiency of this Ministry. It primarily acts as a Data Centre/Data Hub of the Ministry, and takes care of all data and information services. It collects, collates and compiles data generated from various other offices and/or departments to prepare financial and budgetary reports/analysis, as and when required. It also assists in the process of policy research and development undertaken by the Ministry from time to time. In addition, the Centre also looks after the maintenance of IT infrastructure of the Ministry and provides in-house training services for staff and employees. The ICT Centre has got well-equipped training facility, with two dedicated computer labs and qualified trainers.
How are you addressing the needs of training and capacity building of civil servants to work with ICTs?
In order to address training and capacity building needs of our members, we regularly organise workshops and programs. These programs range from very basic IT fundamental courses to advanced technology courses.
What policy reforms would you like to see to encourage higher involvement of financial institutions in e-Governance projects?
Any electronic process that involves financial institutions (either through online monetary transactions or otherwise) needs high security standards to ensure safe and smooth operations. Existing policies do not have a dedicated focus on electronic security issues. I would like to see the introduction of adequate policy measures that genuinely addresses security concerns.
Can you explain how IT initiatives are going to help the Ministry in bringing better transparency?
I do firmly believe that effective use of IT certainly brings greater transparency and accountability of any organisation. We have already started working in this direction. At present, you can easily find a strong online presence of our Ministry, through our websites and portals, wherein we publish a lot of information in the public domain. You can find our annual expense statement, budgetary information and many other data in our website. In addition, our intranet services for employees (called “vayupak.net”), which is initiated by Khun Suparut Kawatkul, Permanent Secretary, serves to publish and disseminate information among and within all our offices throughout the country.
To what extent do you think the projects like e-Revenue will help to increase revenue collection for the department? Are these e-Government projects helping to reduce the operation costs of the Government?
Definitely, projects like those of e-Revenue and other e-Government initiatives will make many Government processes much easier and cost-effective for both, government and its citizens. Electronic and online processes greatly reduces time and cost involved in traditional form of manual procedures. At times, it also helps in making our processes more transparent and removing unnecessary delays in work cycles.