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News Report: "Private Sector Backs Govt On Digital Drive"

Tribune Business, Written by By Youri Kemp, May 12th, 2021

The Chamber of Commerce’s chairman yesterday voiced optimism that making 40 public services available online by year-end will improve The Bahamas’ ease of doing business ranking.

Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, pictured, told Tribune Business that the government’s launch of its “one-stop shop” online portal to access and pay for key services is a “step in the right direction”.

She added: “Hopefully, this will translate into an improvement on the ease of doing business index done by the World Bank. So I think that’s an important point to highlight that we should be able to benefit in our rankings from more and more of the services being available online.

“With regard to digitising as many government services as possible, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. The jurisdiction, for a while now, has been trying to do things to increase its competitiveness, as well as to increase the ease of doing business for the local business environment.

“So these steps are steps in the positive direction; they definitely mean that. With regard to the business community, we would be able to consolidate the time it takes to get your documents from various government agencies or ministries.”

Mrs. Rutherford-Ferguson pointed to the findings of a recent chamber membership survey, where the preliminary results indicated it was of the “utmost importance” that road blocks to be an improved ease of doing business need to be rapidly removed.

She added: “Seeing that the government intends to target 40 online services by the year’s end, it’s definitely a step in the direction of reducing those hurdles and removing some of those roadblocks.”

Dwayne Higgs, WHIM Automotive’s general manager, said he has already signed up for the pilot programme.

He added: “This has a lot of potential if people don’t have to go down to a government office and waste hours trying to get a document when they can just apply online. I think this is very convenient and I think everybody would appreciate that.”

Calling the target of 40 government services online by the end of the year a lofty and aspirational goal, Mr. Higgs said: “I think it is important to have goals rather than not having goals, and then you’re just barely getting by.

“I like the fact that everything is going digital. Your business license and your VAT, you can do online, pay property tax online, and all that. That’s the way to go.”

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