We are glad to hear that the government’s digitization campaign is bringing the desired benefits to the people as revealed by a study by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED). It is indeed a leap forward that the digitization of 66% of the services offered by six ministries/divisions saves service requesters both time and money. According to reports, as many as 161 out of 244 services provided by 28 agencies under these six ministries and divisions have been digitized. Relevant ministries include education, land, health and family welfare, and primary and mass education.
A closer look at the IMED report, based on interviews with beneficiaries and service providers, reveals that 92% of beneficiaries saved additional costs and 96% saved time through digitization. About 70% said they didn’t encounter any “problems” while these offices were manually managed. While this does not mean that the problems of access to these services no longer exist – and one is perhaps inclined to take the official figures with a grain of salt – it nevertheless marks a significant improvement over the time. where no file moved without money and where service seekers had to cross barriers every step of the way.
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One remembers the massive suffering caused when people went to land offices for services regarding the sale or purchase of land. People have often had a nightmarish experience of searching for land transfer and other papers, spending large sums of money and waiting weeks/months for the desired documents. But now this process has become easier after the government digitized 10 services under five departments of the Ministry of Lands. People can now apply for an electronic transfer of land and receive the document in seven days, whereas previously it took at least 28 days. So far, more than three million people have obtained land registration by paying land development tax online, without spending extra money.
But significant challenges remain, even in sectors that have moved fully online or are pursuing an online-offline model, due to the lack of digital literacy, slow and often complicated bureaucratic procedures and the involvement of intermediaries. in cahoots with corrupt officials, who found a way to exploit the online system. In addition, some important sectors continue to limp under the manual system. The reluctance of past and current bosses of these agencies and departments to take advantage of digitization needs to be addressed. In a technology-driven world, digitization is unavoidable and authorities need to fully embrace it as soon as possible.