NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance J Kwasi Thompson said that in the first quarter of next year, at least five government services will go online, including the renewal of driver’s licenses and the ability to obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates.
Thompson said it will become easier to interact with the government because of this focus on digitization, which he noted was just one component of a broader promotion of the digital economy.
“The work at the passport office, which has been getting rave reviews for simplifying and digitizing the passport renewal process, is an indication of what is possible,” Thompson stated during a Ministry of Finance press conference on Monday, December 21, 2020.
“…Going into 2021, Bahamians throughout the country will see these changes manifested at the Road Traffic Department, the Registrar General’s Department, the Department of Social Services, the Judiciary Department, the Ministry of Finance and Department of Immigration.”
Thompson also spoke to the government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business, noting: “In the New Year, I have asked the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) to expand the use of the provisional license, which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to start a new business.
“DIR is already far along with its cashless services, which allows the business community the convenience of paying most of its business and property taxes online.
“Related to ease of doing business is our promotion of domestic and foreign investment. By making it easier and faster for businesses to invest in The Bahamas, we are stimulating more opportunities for job creation and improving the conditions to accelerate economic growth.”
Thompson highlighted the government’s restructure of decision making on foreign direct investment in October, claiming that this would afford the Bahamas Investment Authority “additional resources to focus on the promotion of foreign and domestic investment”.
He further noted that the government recently increased funding for the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre’s small grant program, which “means access to capital no longer has to be a barrier to small business development” and that “600 or more entrepreneurs will get the critical funding to start or grow their small business”.
“We are creating a national digital marketplace so small businesses and other entrepreneurs will be able to trade their goods and services internationally through an e-commerce platform,” Thompson said.
He said that while the country must embrace technology and innovation, the government is supporting Bahamians who might not have adequate access to the digital skills needed to participate inclusively in the digital economy.
Thompson pointed to last week’s signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and US-based networking solutions giant CISCO as evidence that the government is “investing in skills development and education”.