Crown Prince opens e-Government Forum
By Azlan Othman

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, yesterday officiated the 2nd Annual Asia-Pacific e-Gov Forum 2009.

Hosted for the first time by Brunei Darussalam, the three-day forum is organised by the Ministry of Communications, the Prime Minister's Office and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

According to the Minister of Communications, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Awg Abu Bakar, e-Governance is a significant issue that goes beyond the technicality of processes and is more than just a process of service delivery.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Hj Awg Abu Bakar, who is also the Chairman of Brunei Information Technology (BIT) Council, said that e-Governance is about enhancing the value of the services and focuses on the participation of citizens, ie the clients.

"It is about effectiveness, efficiency and empowerment," he said.

As there are varying degrees of implementation and roll-out of e-Government progress across the region, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Hj Awg Abu Bakar is confident that the three-day forum will be a useful avenue for dynamic exchanges that could "minimise our weakness points and, equally important, leverage our respective strengths".

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, Dato Seri Paduka Eussof Agaki, said that e-Governance is the foundation to enable successful implementation of e-Government projects.

Dato Seri Paduka Eussof Agaki, who is also the Chairman of e-Government Leadership Forum, described e-Government as a discipline in providing online governmental services to the public as opposed to simple over-the-counter services.

E-Governance is about building and ensuring that there exists a broad relationship of networks and policies with regards to the use and deployment of information communication technology, he explained.

"E-Government is a multi stakeholders undertaking that should involve experts, policy makers and implementers and industry players, citizens or public at large," Dato Seri Paduka Eussof Agaki said.

E-Governance covers a wide range of issues and challenges that include among others, the need to create a conducive organisational structure to enable the implementation of ICT within the public and private sector, the issue of policies with regards to standards, procedures and legislation to be adopted, optimising business processes, issues of integration and interoperability, efficient programme management to avoid wastage of resources, ensuring effective change management through having the right skills, enough people with concomitantly right or relevant knowledge and expertise.

He further emphasised on streamlining and re-engineering processes and procedures to overcome the issues of red tape as part of good governance. It is also imperative that decision-making processes are improved and streamlined by strengthening the coordination amongst relevant government agencies.

In other words, a whole government approach will serve to strengthen the governance and ultimately deliver an effective e-Government within the civil service and to citizens.

The deputy minister shared some of the key developments pertaining to building good governance in Brunei such as the establishment of e-Government National Centre (EGNC), e-Government Technical Authority Body (EGTAB), and Steering Committee for Public Service delivery.

In addition, the Prime Minister's Office has launched the e-Government strategic plan that lays emphasis on citizen-centric services in the hope that not only will ministries and departments increase their connectivity but the citizens in general, too, will be strongly encouraged to interact with government agencies.

The annual Asia-Pacific e-Gov Forum carries the theme "Developing Efficiency and Empowerment Through Better e-Governance". The aims of the forum, among others, are to gather experts in the e-governance, e-governance stakeholders, policy makers and ICT executives and to share experiences and knowledge in the areas of e-governance.

His Royal Highness later viewed a mini exhibition from selected government departments and stakeholders involved in the e-Governance. Exhibitors from the public service include the PM's Office highlighting EGNC and Public Service Department (highlighting on government -employee management system).

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources is highlighting the business facilitation centre and proposal for 'One government portal' 2009-2014 for BFC and Land Transport Department, which has four components namely online services for driving licence renewal, vehicle registration and renewal, business users namely vehicle permit, registration, body type registration/approval and new vehicle registration book, portal for government and private users: enquiries on vehicle and driving licence details, manage loans and insurance; and traffic enforcement.

As for the private sector, the exhibitors include Infocomm Federation Brunei (IFB); AiTi, iCentre and Sdn Bhd. - Borneo Bulletin (18th August 2009)