Montserrat’s Chief Minister wants to see CARICOM follow the OECS in increasing use of ICT

Reuben T. Meade, Montserrat’s Chief Minister, says CARICOM needs to follow the pattern of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and increase the use of information technology in its day to day operations.

Meade also highlighted the many areas in which Montserrat was implementing ICT such as the ASYCUDA Customs system that has received positive feedback from clients, brokers and staff; the UWI Open Campus and Montserrat Community College both of which use ICTs to deliver classes to the small number of students enrolled.

The Chief Minister spoke at the start of a one-day consultation on a Regional Digital Strategy sponsored by the CARICOM Secretariat on Wednesday. The official made the remarks after being handed a hard-copy of the strategy which he said he would prefer to receive electronically. Meade has been championing the use of technology to deliver more efficient service and to generate revenue for both the public and private sector on island. Since taking office in 2009, the chief minister has insisted on only receiving documents electronically and has encouraged his staff and the wider government to do the same. One of the first laws to be passed under his leadership was the electronic transactions act.

We have to convert from eGovernment to eGovernment. We must get away from all the talk and take action,” Chief Minister Meade said. He highlighted that the OECS and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank regularly host meetings using teleconferencing, which cuts down the amount of time and costs of travel. “On Montserrat where we only have four ministers, if we were to travel to every meeting our people would complain that we were only elected to travel. I would like to see us make a greater commitment and move from the paper stage to the electronic.”

The chief minister called for a greater push to offer more services, such as collecting land and income tax payments online. “ICT affords us the opportunity to do things better and we must show our commitment as a people to try this. We have to use the technology, to teach, learn, and structurally enhance our economy,” he added.

Denzil West, Director of the Department for Information Technology and eGovernment Services (DITES) said the government has already adopted an eGovernment strategy and the next step is to work with the Ministry of Finance to fund the various initiatives coming out of it. West said the consultation was positive and the general focus being the need for Montserrat and Caribbean to think of ourselves as innovators of technology rather than just consumers.

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