DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION KEY TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Acting Secretary for Department of Information, Communications and Technology, Steven Matainaho proposes that the PNG Government should harness digital transformation to recover the country’s economy affected by impacts of Covid-19 response.
“COVID-19 is here to stay. The Government of Papua New Guinea now has a challenge to reposition policy-wise to accommodate for the ‘new normal’.”
“We have to plan and adjust existing plans accordingly. It’s no secret that, we as a country, are facing a potential budget challenges due to the impact of COVID-19 and bouncing back may not be an overnight process.”
Proposals for consideration by the Government:
- Cut Government expenditure by Streamlining NID, Common Role, Census, SIM card registration onto one digital platform. At least K150m annually can be saved by doing this. We don’t need different teams traveling all year round collecting the same data for different requirements. The country has to have one digital platform address all citizenship service requirements;
- Mandating audio and video conference calling can also save Government expenditures. Public Service could save potentially K40 million annually or more as duty travel will no longer be required by many senior public servants. They could meet each other online instead;
- Widen the tax base by integrating IPA, IRC, and banking systems. By doing this, our government addresses ‘ease of business’ drastically making it easy for all citizen to setup their business and bank account through just one digital government platform and at anywhere and anytime. At the same time, we observe social distancing requirements, and;
- Increase Budget revenue by facilitating one eCommerce platform for SMEs to use – especially rural businesses. It’s about putting all businesses online – this includes the informal sector. This will also address social distancing requirements.
“Now some of you out there will say ‘what about connectivity to rural areas? You are not being considerate to them’. Well, I can also say ‘COVID-19 is not considerate to anyone as well, especially the rural population.”
“Take note this may very well be the new normal. Thus, the Government has to now push investment in connectivity with the provincial governments, districts and to the rural population.”