Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002
e-governance, the next happening thing
BANGALORE, Oct. 29
TODAY, probably every national or State Government wants to talk of it. Virtually every company in a related business segment is focussed on it.
Call it e-governance or IT for the common man, but all else being equal, here is a win-win-win scene. Governments are setting apart up to 2 per cent of their budgets for IT and it's naturally a huge opportunity for everyone from hardware, networking to systems integrations, Mr Shailendra Kumar, Microsoft's Industry Manager-government vertical, told Business Line.
With 72 countries and virtually all their States as in India thinking of delivering online, corporates are also focussing their R&D efforts at this segment, Mr Kumar, participant in the session on e-governance at the ongoing BangaloreIT.com, said.
To all those governments trying to change the way they work, Mr C.M. Khoong, Partner, e-governance practice, Singapore Computer Systems, had a word of advice: Be clear about the budgets and ROI (return on investment) models for the e-projects.
The southern States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala who pioneered it a couple of years ago are now back with their success stories. Flush with its highly rated `Bhoomi' or online land records project, Karnataka, for example, is now fine-tuning `Khajane' (meaning `treasury').
The comprehensive online treasury computerisation project, according to Director-Treasuries, Mr Prabhakar, has streamlined what was once a tedious, redundant system into a potential WAN backbone for other departments.
Each year, the State treasury handles annual revenues of Rs 23,000 crore, payments worth Rs 27,000 crore and stamp sales worth Rs 750 crore.
The Rs 30-crore-plus Khajane is a joint product of the State Treasury, STPI and the public sector CMC networks the 31 treasuries and 184 sub-treasuries in the State. It now takes care of financial management functions such as payments, receipts, deposits, pensions, stamps, social security, returns and housekeeping with relative ease.
In the process, according to Mr Prabhakar, the treasury has done away with multiple manual entries, truckloads of cheques and challans that were being sent out for audit every March. Late payments to pensioners, overdrawal and frauds of Rs 15 crore are almost a thing of the past. Soon, once the databases are ready, the treasury will pay salaries and pensions directly without bills, and public sector bank pensions will also be taken up, he said.
Neighbour Kerala is in the process of implementing IKM (Information Kerala Mission) a decentralised planning scheme aimed at the grassroots or 1300 panchayats level, according to Kerala IT Secretary, Ms Aruna Sundararajan.
A set of e-services called `Sevana', `Sulekha', `Friends' and `Soochana' will network various agencies and deliver facilities ranging from one-stop payments to library services, she said.
Foreign governments such as Singapore and the UK are into far bigger projects. Singapore, which is into its fourth cycle, the10-year Infocomm21 mission, has already made a 171 per cent return on its investment in five years and is planning a single personal identification number access for 600 applications from birth to death, said Mr Khoong of Singapore Computer Systems.
Hard copies are almost out and nearly 90 per cent of Singaporeans now file their IT returns online.
The UK has conceived a pounds 1 million Government Gateway project that will be set up over three years; `mySingapore' is slated to be in place by next October, according to Mr Shailendra Kumar.
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