E-Governance: Way Forward For Prosperity

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The rapid progression of technology has intensely reshaped the global structure, revolutionising the ways in which we work, communicate, and live. From the integration of artificial intelligence in everyday tasks to the ubiquitous presence of smartphones, technological innovations are driving unprecedented changes in our daily routines. 

These advancements have not only enhanced efficiency and connectivity but have also transformed industries and societies to a fundamental level. As digital tools and platforms continue to evolve, they are creating new opportunities and challenges that redefine our interactions and lifestyles. The impact of technology is pervasive, influencing every aspect of modern existence and heralding a future where digital integration is seamless and indispensable. Understanding this transformation is important for navigating the complexities of the contemporary world.

The profound impact of technology across all spheres of life has paved the way for governments to revolutionise their governance frameworks, thereby generating greater value through increased efficiency, transparency, integration, and cost-effectiveness. This digital transformation presents an unprecedented opportunity for national and local governments to enhance their service delivery systems. By implementing electronic services, governments can streamline operations, improve accessibility, and ensure smoother delivery of public services to citizens. 

Numerous governments around the world have already embarked on this journey, establishing e-services to facilitate more effective and citizen-friendly governance. Noteworthy examples of such initiatives include the development of online portals for public administration, digital platforms for tax collection, and comprehensive e-health systems. These initiatives not only exemplify the benefits of digital governance but also highlight the potential for continued innovation in the public sector.

Estonia, frequently lauded as a global pioneer in e-governance, has implemented a wide array of digital services, enabling citizens to complete almost every bureaucratic task online. This small Baltic nation’s digital infrastructure allows for seamless interaction between the government and its citizens, covering everything from voting to tax filing and business registration. 

Similarly, Singapore’s “Smart Nation” initiative presents a comprehensive e-governance solution encompassing a multitude of digital services. This includes an integrated online platform for government services, digital health services, and various other conveniences designed to enhance citizen engagement and administrative efficiency. 

In South Korea, digital government initiatives have been remarkably innovative, providing a vast range of solutions. These include health services, public service delivery, and streamlined taxation processes. Additionally, South Korea’s initiatives support agriculture with user-centric water information for local regions, real-time floodgate and water quality data, and information on job opportunities in both government and private sectors. These examples underscore how digital governance can transform public administration, making it more efficient, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the public. As these countries demonstrate, the implementation of robust e-governance systems can lead to significant improvements in the quality of life for citizens and the overall effectiveness of government operations.

Bahrat’s Digital India initiative incorporates a wide range of e-governance projects designed to streamline access to government services. This includes an online portal for various government services, digital payment systems, and a mobile app specifically for farmers. A cornerstone of this initiative is the Aadhaar identity platform, which provides each resident with a unique Aadhaar Number. This platform serves as a strategic policy tool for promoting social and financial inclusion, as well as reforming public sector service delivery.

Australia’s myGov platform similarly offers a unified access point for citizens to engage with multiple government services. Through this platform, Australians can easily manage their tax and welfare services, access health information, and find job search services all in one place.

The UK’s GOV.UK website functions as a comprehensive central portal where citizens can access a wide array of government services. These services include tax information, health services, and passport applications, ensuring a streamlined and efficient user experience. 

These examples illustrate the global trend towards digital governance, demonstrating how countries are leveraging technology to enhance the efficiency, accessibility, and responsiveness of public services. By adopting such innovative e-governance solutions, these nations are setting benchmarks for the rest of the world in creating more inclusive and effective government frameworks.

The United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI) is an E-Government Survey published biennially by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) since 2001. It evaluates the e-government development status of all United Nations Member States. The EGDI is a composite index, derived from the weighted averages of the Telecommunications 

Infrastructure Index (TII), Human Capital Index (HCI), and Online Service Index (OSI). The survey offers valuable insights and highlights a clear trend of increasing global adoption of e-government models. Particularly, the number of countries with very high EGDI values (ranging from 0.75 to 1.00) rose from 57 in 2020 to 60 in 2022. Similarly, countries with high EGDI values (0.50 to 0.75) increased from 69 in 2020 to 73 in 2022.

In 2022, Pakistan ranked 150th on the EGDI with a score of 0.42, showing a slight improvement from its 153rd ranking and score of 0.41 in 2020. Pakistan began its digital transformation journey in 2007 with the introduction of the E-Office system. According to the National Information Technology Board (NITB), the E-Office comprises six modules:

  • Internal Communication Portal for office orders and notifications
  • Financial Planning and Budgeting for managing budgets and expenses.
  • Project Management module for automating the PC-I and PC-II preparation and approval process.
  • Human Resource Management for all HR-related processes
  • Inventory and Procurement
  • Internal Portal for various other organisational needs

 Information from the NITB indicates that there are 124 active E-Office sites across Pakistan with 25,618 active users, of which 84 sites are at the federal level.

Despite initiating its digital transformation journey over a decade and a half ago, Pakistan still lags in fully realising the benefits of e-governance. The anticipated dividends from this transformation remain largely unrealised, as the basic element of integration is still lacking. Businesses and citizens continue to navigate complex processes to accomplish their tasks, leading to disruptions in overall efficiency and delays in resolving complaints. It is imperative for the government to embrace technology wholeheartedly, ensuring timely adoption and implementation across all ministries and departments at the federal level.

This strategic move will significantly reduce turnaround times, cut costs, and enhance overall business efficiency. More importantly, it will improve public confidence in the government’s governance framework and service delivery. By fully leveraging e-governance, Pakistan can streamline administrative processes, foster transparency, and drive economic prosperity, ultimately creating a more efficient and responsive government that better serves its citizens.

 

Dr. Ikramul Haq and Abdul Rauf Shakoori
Dr. Ikramul Haq and Abdul Rauf Shakoori
Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specialises in constitutional, corporate, media, ML/CFT related laws, IT, intellectual property, arbitration and international tax laws. He established Huzaima & Ikram in 1996 and is presently its chief partner as well as partner in Huzaima Ikram & Ijaz. He studied journalism, English literature and law. He is Chief Editor of Taxation. He is country editor and correspondent of International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) and member of International Fiscal Association (IFA). He is Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). He has coauthored with Huzaima Bukhari many books that include Tax Reforms in Pakistan: Historic & Critical Review, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised & Expanded Edition, Pakistan: Enigma of Taxation, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised/enlarged edition of December 2020), Law & Practice of Income Tax, Law , Practice of Sales Tax, Law and Practice of Corporate Law, Law & Practice of Federal Excise, Law & Practice of Sales Tax on Services, Federal Tax Laws of Pakistan, Provincial Tax Laws, Practical Handbook of Income Tax, Tax Laws of Pakistan, Principles of Income Tax with Glossary and Master Tax Guide, Income Tax Digest 1886–2011 (with judicial analysis). He is author of Commentary on Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements signed by Pakistan, Pakistan: From Hash to Heroin, its sequel Pakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap and Practical Handbook of Income Tax. He regularly writes columns/article/papers for many Pakistani newspapers and international journals and has contributed over 2500 articles on a variety of issues of public interest, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad. Twitter: DrIkramulHaq _________________________________ Abdul Rauf Shakoori, Advocate High Court, is a subject-matter expert on AML-CFT, Compliance, Cyber Crime and Risk Management. He has been providing AML-CFT advisory and training services to financial institutions (banks, DNFBPs, Investment companies, Money Service Businesses, insurance companies and securities), government institutions including law enforcement agencies located in North America (USA & CANADA), Middle East and Pakistan. His areas of expertise include legal, strategic planning, cross border transactions including but not limited to joint ventures (JVs), mergers & acquisitions (M&A), takeovers, privatizations, overseas expansions, USA Patriot Act, Banking Secrecy Act, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Over his career he has demonstrated excellent leadership, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills and have also developed and delivered training courses in the areas of AML/CFT, Compliance, Fraud & Financial Crime Risk Management, Bank Secrecy, Cyber Crimes & Internet Threats against Banks, E–Channels Fraud Prevention, Security and Investigation of Financial Crimes. The courses have been delivered as practical workshops with case study driven scenarios and exams to insure knowledge transfer. His notable publications are: Rauf’s Compilation of Corporate Laws of Pakistan, Rauf’s Company Law and Practice of Pakistan and Rauf’s Research on Labour Laws and Income Tax and others. His articles include: Revenue collection: Contemporary targets vs. orthodox approach, It is time to say goodbye to our past, US double standards, Was Due Process Flouted While Convicting Nawaz Sharif?, FATF and unjustly grey listed Pakistan, Corruption is no excuse for Incompetence, Next step for Pakistan, Pakistan’s compliance with FATF mandates, a work in progress, Pakistan’s strategy to address FATF Mandates was Inadequate, Pakistan’s Evolving FATF Compliance, Transparency Curtails Corruption, Pakistan’s Long Road towards FATF Compliance, Pakistan’s Archaic Approach to Addressing FATF Mandates, FATF: Challenges for June deadline, Pakistan: Combating the illicit flow of money, Regulating Crypto: An uphill task for Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy — Chicanery of numbers. Pakistan: Reclaiming its space on FATF whitelist. Sacred Games: Kulbhushan Jadhav Case. National FATF secretariat and Financial Monitoring Unit. The FATF challenge. Pakistan: Crucial FATF hearing. Pakistan: Dissecting FATF Failure, Environmental crimes: An emerging challenge, Countering corrupt practices . Twitter: Adbul Rauf Shakoori The recent publication, coauthored by these writes, is Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges & Solutions, available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RXH8W46 and https://aacp.com.pk/

1 COMMENT

  1. Dr. Ikramul Haq and Abdul Rauf Shakoori have written a compelling and insightful article, “E-Governance: Way Forward For Prosperity,” that expertly highlights the transformative potential of digital governance. Their thorough analysis of global e-governance initiatives, coupled with a focused evaluation of Pakistan’s journey, highlights the critical need for embracing technology to enhance efficiency, transparency, and public service delivery. This work serves as an essential roadmap for policymakers aiming to harness the benefits of digital transformation, ultimately, likely to create a more prosperous and responsive governance framework. Their contribution is both timely and invaluable in the digital age.

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