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E-Government is the right module for Sri Lanka

E-government is the modern method of serving the public through Internet by improving the quality of public services provided by the Government.

Governments all over the world have successfully replaced customary methods of serving its people with the integration of Internet based e-government mechanism in respective countries.

This Internet based electronic-government system is many times superior to conventional systems which were used in the past. With the onset of e-government public services such as education, health, security and public welfare could be delivered to the public more efficiently and cost effectively than ever before.

The Government departments and institutes are using numerous methods for transferring of its services. In many instances to obtain such services one has to be present at these Government offices in person. For example, patients must visit hospitals to obtain consultations for their illnesses.

Economic

Similarly people who are obtaining services through the Government offices must travel to the respective office despite its location. For instance, a senior citizen from Kataragama has to travel all the way to Colombo to finalise the administration work of his pension scheme.

Just imagine how it would be if this person could get this work done without travelling all the way to Colombo? Remember that wonder would only be possible with the transformation of e-government.

The present economic situation in the country inevitably requires a speedy recovery mechanism. Decline in exports and increase in imports could create an unbalanced economic situation which would lead to inflation. Therefore, it is very important to control this situation until we have come up with lasting solutions in the future.

This could be done effectively by the process of streamlining the country's administration system with conservation of resources and managing sparingly to reduce the burden on the Government. e-government could play a big role in this regard by reducing the Government expenditure on public services.

Further the conservation of resources would enable the Government to distribute what is being saved, evenly among other public services by further enhancing the living standards of its citizens.

e-government could bridge people and services by reducing the gap eventually.

High speed broadband Internet (HSBB) could be used as a medium in transfer of services.

Cost effectiveness and superiority are the two major reasons to nominate HSBB or high speed broadband as a connecting medium in this process. Most importantly the medium or the data transport link we intended to use must be a common, affordable technology which could be accessed by everybody.

The initial rollout of the e-government process is initially started by converting all Government offices and institutes in to an on-line administrative hub where public would have online remote access. To achieve the best out of this, the initial network must split into two segments; public and internal.

While public network serves the general public, internal network could be used to interconnect all Government offices to quarry data base and to exchange data it store. As more and more people would use these on-line services, the growth of the data base would also increase.

Eventually this would provide an extensive automated statistic report to the central government. These statistics obtained through data base, would be a priceless asset to the Government in improving its services to its citizens in the future.

Efficiency

By electronically interconnecting Government offices through high speed Internet, Government could increase the efficiency of its existing services which are being provided to its citizen. For example, before issuing an identity card, the department could verify applicant's details which could be obtained from the department of Police.

Similarly, the Motor Traffic Department would have the opportunity to check the genuineness of the ID card of an applicant who has applied for a driving license.

This saves millions of State funds while serving the public in a better way. In turn the public confidence in the Government would increase, which is vital for the development of the country.

The Government is spending a considerable amount of State funds on printing materials such as forms and applications annually. This could be minimised effectively by making these forms and applications available on-line.

This method allows the public to download forms and get it printed locally at his or her home by not visiting the offices. This would save considerable amount of State funds and it is convenient to the public as well. Public commuting could be reduced and this would ease the road congestion and save fuel too.

Asset

Providing information to public is another vital service of e-government initiative.

Developed version of this service would bring unprecedented level of services to the public with interactive features. For example, by typing an address of an unknown place, one could find the location of the address on a displayed map on his computer screen even with the route numbers of buses which travels to that particular location.

Healthy nation is an asset that is required for the development of any society. Every year, Government spends millions of rupees on health service in the country. In this regard through the initiative of e-medicine government could provide extensive medical services to its citizen over the Internet.

Some of the hospitals in rural areas with limited medical facilities would have the opportunity of obtaining cutting edge latest medical facilities simply by linking with other base hospitals by the use of broadband technology.

As a result the Government would have the opportunity to use its scares resources sparingly and cost effectively by sharing them with other hospitals identified as minimum facility hospitals.

Undoubtedly e-government is the right move for tomorrow's Sri Lanka. However, to make this become a reality, the country's information communication infrastructure should be capable of handling growing demands in the future.

The reason being e-government module is entirely dependent upon the information technology that works over the Internet platform. High speed broadband (HSBB) Internet is the cheapest and fastest data communication system which could be used to deliver e-government services to citizens.

Since government is committed to minimise the costs of services which were provided through the e-government process, broadband is a handy tool in all aspects.

The success of the e-government depends on the ability to access public services remotely. To encourage more citizens to use e-government services we must provide a cost effective medium to the public.

But in Sri Lanka, the deprived quality and highly priced Internet services have actually prevented people from accessing the Internet for e-based transactions.

These situations have badly affected the e-Sri Lanka initiative and have slowed down the growth of Internet usage in the country.

To counteract this, every household in Sri Lanka should be provided with an affordable high speed Internet service without further delay.

The slow Internet service such as dialup is incompatible with e-government process and also similar types of broadband services below 1Mbps should not be brought or introduced as it may jeopardise the concept of e-government process in its cradle.

If public could not afford Internet, the e-government concept would never become successful.

Therefore it is vital to identify the importance of broadband Internet and the role it could play, for us to achieve the targets of e-government in future.

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