JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government is removing bureaucracy and red tape across the public sector, making it easier for citizens to do business.
  • Since 1997, the Cabinet Office has effectively utilised the Network to share service delivery best practices, share common experiences and challenges and build the capacity of entities.
  • Among the public sector entities that have been improving service delivery by making changes to their operational procedures is Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ).

The Government is removing bureaucracy and red tape across the public sector, making it easier for citizens to do business.

“This is something that the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme has as a priority. One of our focus areas is improving the ease of conducting business, and there are several projects being implemented to promote the ease of doing business,” Modernisation Specialist, Customer Service Development, in the Cabinet Office, Michele Gordon-Somers, explains.

She cites the Public Sector Customer Service Programme as a critical component of the Transformation and Modernisation Programme managed by the Cabinet Office, which began in 1996.

“Our major aim is to improve the ease of doing business, to focus on improvement generally for the public, in terms of customer satisfaction,” the Specialist tells JIS News.

Responding to calls for a high level of efficiency in the public sector, she notes that a Public Sector Customer Service Network was established to share service delivery best practices.

Since 1997, the Cabinet Office has effectively utilised the Network to share service delivery best practices, share common experiences and challenges and build the capacity of entities.

“We have a customer service network that meets once per quarter where best practices are shared and service challenges are discussed among network members, because we want to make sure to maintain that focus on service quality in the public sector,” Mrs. Gordon-Somers told a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’.

“We try to look at processes critically to see what we can do to make these processes much more efficient in terms of cutting down on red-tape, overlaps and duplication,” she said.

Mrs. Gordon-Somers pointed out that organisations are involved in business process improvement as a way of ensuring that transaction times are reduced for customers.

“Many organisations have improved in terms of the use of technology in improving service quality and improving access to customers, as well. Also, organizations have been involved in setting key performance indicators, setting service targets and standards and publishing citizens’ charters, which improve the transparency of government operations and ensure that customers understand the level of service to expect,” she said.

The Specialist pointed to the one stop registration for companies and business names at the Companies Office of Jamaica, with the Super form BRF 1 allowing for one stop registration at one government agency, instead of multiple government offices.

“The aim of the form is to collect all information required to be given by the business owner to various offices at one focal point,” she pointed out, adding that in the past, customers had to go to several organisations to register a new business.

“It cuts down transaction times, it cuts down on red tape and it just improves access and convenience to customers in terms of starting a new business. There are several projects like these happening across the public sector and that process will be accelerated over the next three to five years,” she told JIS News.

To reward those entities that have been doing well, Mrs. Gordon-Somers said the Public Sector Customer Service Competition was introduced, with the aim of encouraging a commitment to, and continuous improvement in the quality of service in the public sector.

The seventh staging of the competition is being held this year with two new categories being included – the Most Responsive Entity and the Most Socially Aware Entity. The public has until April 30 to vote for entities which they think are offering the best service as well as for the public sector officer who delivered the most outstanding customer service.

Among the public sector entities that have been improving service delivery by making changes to their operational procedures is Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ).

“We are continuing to change the way we do business and we are working harder to serve our tax-paying public better and to hold up the mandate of TAJ to improve our services and to make the interaction and the experiences with us one that is customer focused and customer centred,” Communications Officer at TAJ, Leighton Beckles, tells JIS News in an interview.

He notes that transaction times have been reduced for members of the public who go to pay their taxes and file their income tax returns.

 

“This process has been consolidated, so persons use one place, one form and make one payment, and the returns can be submitted at any tax office across the island,” Mr. Beckles notes.

He points out that the organisation’s Enterprise Web portal, a single point of entry to access TAJ’s web services, is also enhancing efficiency at the organization.

“We are able to file and pay returns through a single point of entry. We are able to simply browse and get tax information or download forms through that single point of entry,” he adds.

Recently, the TAJ rolled out its new Revenue Administration Information System (RAIS), aimed at improving its capacity to integrate and administer the various tax systems currently being used. This allows the entity to monitor the work flow of auditors, compliance and enforcement personnel. With this new system, Mr. Beckles notes, the organization will work more efficiently and tax payers will be able to interact with their tax information.

“They are able to make payments online, they are able to file for GCT refunds online, and TAJ is able to communicate with the taxpayer, and vice versa, through confidential and highly secured messages to give them status reports on their accounts,” he explains, adding that the system will eventually be a part of the enterprise web portal.

Another entity that has been quietly making changes to its operational procedures is the Post and Telecommunications Department.

Quality Assurance Manager, Post and Telecommunications Department, Devon Dewdney, says the organisation has improved its tracking system of bar coded items.

 

“Customers are now able to go on our website to input the barcode number and they will be able to track their items to USA, Canada and UK,” he notes. To improve the tracing of items, an internal tracking system has been created through the corporation’s information technology department, which has enabled the organization to send the items to the receiver much faster.

The entity has also improved its mail transportation system, resulting in the delivery of mails within two days in the Corporate Area, three in other parts of the island and five for international mails within the Caribbean and to North America and parts of Europe.

“Where our EMS (Express Mail Service) is not able to be delivered within the five days, then we partner with the DHL to send those mail items to other parts of the world and that is within a five-day period,” he informs.

As it relates to local express, he says these mails have a “next day delivery islandwide at selected post offices.”

One of the recent transformation projects was the introduction of a centralised Customer Service Unit. Mr. Dewdney points out that members of the public can call to get any information regarding their mail or use the Internet via the website: www.jamaicapost.gov.jm or facebook/jamaicapost to send querries.