Bhutan to boost ICT

Bhutan is moving closer to achieving e-governance, as the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) concluded the second phase of its ICT e-Gov master plan on April 14 at Banquet Hall, Thimphu.

The point to institutionalize e-Gov governance structure was to manage and ensure effective implementation of the e-Gov master plan for Bhutan in 11FYP, avoid duplication of efforts and resources, and ensure important ICT investments to meet intended goals, the release from information and communication states. For this initiative, the government has approved five committees with defined responsibilities, the highest body is the Cabinet followed by e-Gov council (committee of secretaries and heads of autonomous agenciesand representatives of selected ICT project owners).

To support ministries and agencies in the government, the ICT management division was formed to implement the use ICT in delivering services to the citizens and businesses. A press release from MoIC states that it “aims to deliver efficiency in government’s ICT planning and delivery.” The Department of Information Technology and Telecom will be in-charge of managing all the ICT professionals in the governance system, the press release adds.

For enabling better data sharing, decision making, coordination and synergy, avoid redundancies and promote citizen centric one-stop delivery of services, the e-GIF was introduced, the release states. According to MoIC, e-GIF aims to ease the practice of using isolated and stand alone ICT application which makes agencies hard to integrate and interoperate information between systems. The implementation of e-GIF also aims to make the government agencies to comply with e-GIF standards and recommendations in order to undertake any ICT projects and ICT procurement.

MoIC is to set up an advisory for implementation of a government data centre to initiate clear strategies and procedures towards establishment and operationalization of Government Data Centre (GDC). The GDC core team with an IDA international consultant implemented the project from July to December last year, the MoIC press release stated.

The sectoral ICT master plans for education, health and tourism were also developed under the program which aimed to assist the key officials and build capability of the government officials from these sectors.

Sharing her views on the success of the programme, the Deputy Chairperson of Temasek Foundation (TF), Jennie Chua assured that the program will benefit Bhutan immensely.

The Information and Communications Minister, D.N Dhungyel is positive about the program and said, “It will be very successful for the implementation of the projects.”

Heath Secretary, Nima Wangdi says that the implementation of master plan is very expensive and it is one of the biggest challenges.

“ Travel and tourism industry is the largest product sold through internet and ICT is powerful tool,” says Director of Tourism Council of Bhutan, Chimmy Pem.

The project was outcome of support from International Development Authority (IDA), the Infocomm arm of the Singapore.

In the first phase of program, the Temasek Foundation in Singapore, gave a fund of USD 700,000 to develop national e-Gov master plan, to build an ICT management system and to establish an e-GIF.

For the second phase, Bhutan received 70%, or USD 795,000 fund support from the TF and 30% was borne by the government with the help of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The success of second phase was outcome of 45 workshops including round tables, core team trainings and conferences held by more than one thousand of participants of senior government officials, domain experts and ICT officers.

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