The speed at which the government transitions to digital technology would not only improve the efficiency of public services but is also necessary to maintain competitiveness in a post pandemic world.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health crisis has accelerated the adoption of automation technologies by firms in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region in a bid to reduce risk and costs, according to a report titled “COVID-19, 4IR and the Future of Work” released by the APEC Policy Support Unit.
APEC should study closely a phenomenon of short-term accelerated unemployment resulting from adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) automation technologies, while also considering new approaches to manage the challenges that stem from automation, according to the report.
“Policymakers will need to conduct a careful, sector-by-sector and gender-based analysis of jobs at risk of automation that factors in the new normal,” it noted.
G2C is better normal
Learn from the COVID-19 experience to usher in a “better normal,” Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged as he added agencies should prioritize the transition to e-governance for more efficient and responsive delivery of services.
Go noted Filipinos who need to transact with government for public services will soon be spared of the need to go to physical offices if government-to-citizen (G2C) e-governance platforms are available.
Aside from supporting calls of his peers for telecommunications firms to ensure connectivity, Go also urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology and other agencies to give priority to developing automated systems and make government processes more efficient, accessible and responsive to the demands of the changing times.
“At this time, many have transitioned to online, from E-governance, E-commerce and also online learning. It is important that the country will not be left behind in the transition to the digital age,” he said.
Go stressed the necessity for e-governance in the country has been growing in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic which limits physical mobility and face-to-face transactions among government offices, and between the government, citizens and businesses.
Gov’t to lead transition
“Due to COVID-19, the way of doing business should evolve from the normal need of a face-to-face engagement. The government should be part of the transition. We should adopt more efficient, responsive and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. This will effectively make the government more in tune to the changing times,” he explained.
Go said that E-governance will bring the government closer to the people in these times through modern platforms.
“The old tedious ways of doing things bred opportunities for corruption. A simple permit or license, takes days to obtain and presence is required since the people need to queue to seek the service of agencies. That is passe,” Go narrated as he explained how health and safety protocols dictated the new methods in transacting with government.
Despite the fact that most regular private and public operations have been halted, the need of our people to transact with and seek services from government continues.
Dispense with old norms
Go cited various levels of governance where e-governance will prove to be useful. These include government-to-government (G2G), G2C and government-to-business (G2B) interactions.
“Due to the pandemic, G2G processes, such as transactions between two government agencies, are heavily hampered because we are physically limited by the social distancing and quarantine protocols in place to contain the spread of the virus,” Go explained.
“This will easily be resolved if we have e-governance platforms in place that would allow intra-government coordination and transactions to be done in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner,” he added.
Furthermore, Go emphasized the need to build e-governance capacities in G2B transactions to ensure that the economic activity in the country remains seamless amid the current pandemic.