Jordan launched on Tuesday its first action plan for e-government, envisaging its completion between the next three to five years and the implementation of a few fast-track projects within the next 12-18 months.
At a regular meeting of the royally appointed Economic Consultative Council (ECC), prime minister Ali Abul Ragheb welcomed the recommendations put forward by the ECC e-government committee, headed by Aramex CEO Fadi Ghandour.
Abul Ragheb, however, contended that the three-five year deadline was "perhaps a bit too optimistic," but stressed, "E-government is a necessity, not a luxury" and declared that his cabinet was "ready to deal with it." "Here we talk about development, and we have to make sure that this project succeeds. The challenges are big, we have to make sure that [public sector] staff is rehabilitated and trained," the prime minister said.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Ghandour expressed confidence that "in five years, our citizens will be able to handle most of their paperwork from a kiosk, and e-government will be a normal feature of life."
The seven fast-track projects identified by the 16-member e-government committee on the basis of their feasibility and visibility will involve services in government-to- business (G2B), government-to-citizens (G2C), and government-to-government (G2G) transactions.
In G2B, taxation and social security, e-procurement, business registration and licensing, and telecommunications licensing and regulation were chosen for the "readiness of the involved departments," Ghandour said, and for the availability of high percentages of e-savvy personnel therein.
In G2C, the e-revolution will first cover real estate services — with the involvement in the project of the land and surveys department and the Greater Amman municipality — and motoring services. In a few words, as Ghandour's presentation pointed out, Jordanians will be able to renew their car registration and driving license, or pay traffic tickets by the click of a mouse by next year.
The fast-track project in the area of G2G consists of setting up the government's electronic yellow pages and an "Intranet" linking government offices and department with each other.
ECC members and cabinet members moved swiftly to address reservations as to the plan's feasibility against the country's low computer penetration: Citizens will not need to have a home PC to benefit from the government's future online services, since special kiosks, manned by qualified personnel, will be set up in schools and post offices across the Kingdom to assist customers.
Comparing e-government projects carried out in an array of countries, from Australia, Britain, Dubai and Singapore to Portugal and the US, the ECC e-government committee recommended a series of measures to be taken in the sectors of education, infrastructure, and legislative and regulatory framework to ensure the implementation of the plan.
Coordination and supervision was entrusted with a "National e-Government Task Force" headed by telecommunications and post minister Fawwaz Zu'bi, to function as a coordination unit among the task forces for various programs.
Recommendations in the field of education included the establishment of a center of excellence for e-government and the launch of an "IT for all" program, in addition to programs to develop administrative capabilities in IT.
As for the legislative requirements for the plan, the ECC recommended a review of all existing legislations to remove legal impediments to e-government, including aspects related to the recognition of electronic signatures and electronic payments.
Zu'bi announced that an IT legislation package, to develop the industry and pave the way to e-government and e-business will be presented to Parliament by year-end.
To ready the necessary infrastructure, the plan resorts to an "Access Media Program," setting up kiosks for e-government services in Internet cafes, post offices and schools, in addition to the implementation by Jordan Telecom of a fiber optic link expected to cover the Greater Amman area by year-end and other major cities across the country by March 2001. — ( Jordan Times )
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)