Above: The Honourable Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Administration and Communications, author of the following…
I wish to refer to Mark Lyndersay’s review of the National ICT plan ‘fastforward 11’ of August 22, 2017 under the headline, ‘$1 billion for ICT Wishlist’ which examined the pros and cons of the Government’s blueprint for the sector for the period 2017-2021.
Mr. Lyndersay’s comments are welcomed by the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications (MPAC) and will be considered as part of the consultation process before moving forward. I am pleased that Mr. Lyndersay perused the document and concluded that “This is actually a very good blue skies manifesto. I disagree with very little of its broad outlines, despite my obvious annoyance with its occasional stuffy silliness and deluded assumptions.”
However, please allow me to correct a few misconceptions espoused in his review. It must be noted that the Government’s telecom liberalization policy can be credited for many of this country’s advances in ICT. The creation of an enabling environment, legislative and otherwise, has removed many barriers and allows the private sector to pursue much of its development and expansion. For its own part, the Government approved Govnett NG which will boost network and connectivity for all Government Ministries and agencies.
Moreover, contrary to the assertion, “eDemocracy” is a legitimate academic term and topic alongside more popular terms such as eGovernment and Open Government. It should also be noted that this is an agenda pursued by many governments, including the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Additionally, information about ‘smartTT’ has not been removed and can be found on the Ministry’s website.
The Government has also put in train a number of initiatives that will re-engineer the public sector into an efficient body and one which can effectively drive the National ICT plan. Key to the transformational process is the shift to Government services online, while the reform of procedures and processes will ensure faster delivery of public services. Another facet of the plan includes fast tracking the operationalization of the Electronic Transaction Act to facilitate online transactions.
A strategic visioning exercise for the Personnel Department complemented by programmes of the Strategic Human Resources Management Division of the MPAC and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IMPAC) are part of a holistic plan to reform the public sector. These are aimed at the institutional strengthening of the Services Commissions and address empowerment of the Public Service.
The e-Business Roundtable (eBRT), reconvened on December 6, 2016, will also help to drive the National ICT strategy and keep the agenda relevant. The roundtable includes key stakeholders such as the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT), the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce (TT Chamber), the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the National ICT Company (iGovTT).
Furthermore, shortly after Cabinet’s approval and its launch, the MPAC moved swiftly to begin consultations on the National ICT plan in order to ensure the process moves quickly.
As Minister with responsibility for ICT and the Public Service, I hope this clarifies some of the misconceptions and offers assurances that the Government will do all in its power to ensure the National ICT plan, ‘fastforward 11’ moves from strategy to implementation.
Honourable Maxie Cuffie
Minister of Public Administration and Communications
Member of Parliament for La Horquetta/Talparo