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Posted: Tuesday 9 February, 2016 at 8:46 AM

Transparency and Accountability in Government

By: Adam Anderson, OPEN Interactive, Inc.

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – DELIVERING services to our citizens is at the heart of what our government ministries and departments do. Tasks like paying VAT, renewing driving licenses, and applying for benefits are examples of interactions citizens have with government. The delivery of services are therefore critical in shaping trust in and perceptions of our public sector.


    Citizens today expect more transparent, accessible, and responsive services from the public sector.  Which brings up an important accomplishment that can be called out.  The Government of National Unity has made efforts to improve service delivery by looking at the internal processes and workflow within ministries and departments and will, over the next two years, enable automation and online delivery of services that for decades, have remained manual ‘in-person’ processes.  This work is being accomplished via e-Government.


    e-Government is a bi-lateral process.  On the other side of service delivery, you will be able to tell ministers exactly how you feel about accessing services via the SKN e-Government platform, in order that issues are being received and considered in shaping policy, laws, and service accessibility that positively impacts your life.  This is real transformation, by any standard.  Moving to a true e-Government system is a hallmark moment and a clear sign of a progressive and representative government. 


    It is your voice and concerns that are critical to Nation Building.   The revenues received by our government must be spent and allocated in a manner that delivers the ‘will of the people’.  Your participation, trust, and ultimate satisfaction will build and increase over time, as long as you see efficient service delivery, and when you see that your voice, concerns, and desires are reflected back with social programs and services that build our nation stronger.


    Part of the problem is that despite best intentions, government designs and delivers services based on their own requirements and processes but this is where your needs must be made known.  It is through e-Government where a citizen-centric approach to service design and delivery can happen. 


    Over 2016 and 2017, transforming service delivery from our ministries and departments begins in earnest, with a clear understanding of your needs and priorities. It remains every citizen’s solemn duty to identify which services are today, most problematic, so that ministers can prioritize areas for needed improvement. 


    There are three guiding principles to ensure that your satisfaction is fully realized.


    First, let government understand that you support a Nation Building agenda that focuses on elevating lifestyle and ease of doing business.  If you are unclear as to the Nation Building vision espoused by our government, it is your responsibility to inquire and understand the mid and long-term development plans that will impact your life, and the lives of your children.  Ask.  If what you hear is not clear, or falls short of being comprehensive and actionable; demand better.


    Second, keep a report card that keeps government accountable for the manifesto promises and vision presented during the last election.  It’s important that promises made, are also promises kept.  There are 193 specific promises made — know them (we will post them under Nation Building). Our government will succeed in this respect, while building greater trust, as they support and ensure that the principles of representative government remain transparent and actionable.


    Third, ask ministers of government what they intend to do for Nation Building and ask what their plans are for strengthening our economy.  Require specifics with respect to vision and planning documents that present clear mid and long-term plans in the following areas:


    Education (National skills training, including a five year plan with forecasts)


    Tourism (Five year plan, including PR, marketing, infrastructure, and forecasts)


    Energy (Ten year plan, including economic impact, cost reduction, and security plan with forecasts)


    Economic Development (Five year detailed plan that covers international trade, jobs creation, enterprise zone and/or ICT centre, and forecast)


    Crime Reduction (Five to ten year plan that includes social policy and plans that strengthen family, church, NGO, and police force, including crime reduction forecasts)


    When we make our collective voices heard, our elected leaders can know with certainty where to place their priorities and efforts.  Government in a vibrant democracy is a daily process between citizens and elected officials.  Make your voice heard and support positive, affirmative steps that our government makes in representing the people.






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