Voting by mobile phone?
If Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan has her way that's how citizens would be able to vote in the future.
Speaking yesterday at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries (TTCSI) at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) in Port of Spain, Seepersad-Bachan said her priority in the short term would be the modernisation of the public service through e-Governance.
Also speaking at the meeting was Aneesh Chopra, former information and communication technology (ICT) adviser to US President Barack Obama.
Using his experience in the White House as an example, Chopra said government needs to harness the innovative capacity of the private sector and citizens to get the best out of the industry. He also highlighted the aims of the US government—specifically, initiatives by Obama—to make government activities more transparent and information more easily accessible to citizens.
In her address, Seepersad-Bachan said: 'Our dream and our evidence that we have a truly transformed public service is the day when a citizen in any part of the country can use a cellphone to access any government service and provide inputs into public policy, ask to see the up-to-date expenditure on any project, or to perform that most fundamental of democratic functions — to vote."
This can only happen, she said, if the country harnesses the power of ICT.
She said in the 50 years since the public service of an independent Trinidad and Tobago has been in existence, there have been several attempts to modernise it, but they were neither sustainable nor successful.
The reason, she believes, is because the ICT infrastructure was not in place. Now, the Government has invested in ICT, but the country still has very little to show for it.
"In my view, the reason for this is that we have had a lot of investment in ICT but at no point did we engage the public service to embed ICT into its processes. Having acquired most of the technologies the next stage is the application process, which involves institutionalising the changes and then internalising them," she said.
She added that for public service transformation, there needs to be integration.
"Public services are most effective when they are integrated. The overarching goals—better quality of life, greater economic performance, increased competitiveness, better health, less corruption, improved ease of doing business, access to public goods and services-can only be achieved in partnership," she said.
She added that e-Payments legislation, as mentioned in the budget, would be before the Parliament before the end of the year.