Anybody who has had to deal extensively with bureaucrats knows the problem – red tape and paperwork.

So a master plan to revolutionize communication being rolled out to communicate with government departments in the Yangon region is raising a few eyebrows given its ambition.

The e-Yangon (electronic Yangon) masterplan will be implemented in three phases, U Min Oo, joint secretary of the e-Yangon steering committee and president at Yangon region computer professionals Association told the Mizzima Business Weekly in a telephone interview last week. The first phase is the “information level” to provide public access to information about Yangon region government ministries and their procedures, U Min Oo said.

The second phase, the “interaction level”, will enable the public to communicate with public servants and access and download documents via the web portal of the e-Yangon plan. The government will also establish an “e-call center” to provide information to the public, he said.

Live updates of traffic conditions will be among the range of on-line services to be provided in the third phase – the “transactional level” – which will also include business licence applications, paying taxes and searching for information on ministry databases, U Min Oo said.

The 20-member e-Yangon steering committee was established in October and its president is the Yangon region chief Minister, U Myint swe.

In a speech on October 16 announcing the launch of the web portal, U Myint Swe said the e-Yangon plan would help to strengthen the effort to achieve clean government and good governance in Myanmar.

Steering committee member U Zaw Min Oo told Mizzima Business Weekly in an interview last week that members of the Myanmar computer professionals Association are involved in the operation of e-Yangon plan’s web portal as a pilot project.

Itcompanies are yet to be commercially involved, said U Zaw Min Oo, who is also joint secretary of the Myanmar computer Federation.

A pilot version of the e-Yangon web portal – www.eyangon.gov.mm– which has a core function in the master plan, was displayed at the International Myanmar Ict exhibition at Tatmadaw hall on October 17. U Min Oo said the master plan provides for ministries in the Yangon region government to gradually develop their portals through the three phases subject to their budgets, human resources and capacity. Asked how many ministries had implemented each phase, U Min Oo said it was difficult to give an exact number.

“Yangon government ministries will need to set up an effective internet system within their organizations, develop human resources capacity and allocate an adequate amount from their budgets to connect to the e-Yangon web portal,” he said.

“These three conditions must be met before it will be possible for Yangon region ministries to connect to the web portal of the e-Yangon plan,” U Min Oo said.

He also said that while the master plan will not lead to a completely paperless system in dealing with government ministries, there was no doubt it would result in a sharp reduction in paper work once the system was fully implemented.

The need for citizens to apply in person for national identity cards was an example of a situation in which paperwork could not be avoided.

U Min Oo said the Yangon region government was yet to allocate funding for the project and it was receiving financial support from individual members of the MCPA.

Describing the financial situation as a challenge, U Zaw Min Oo said it was preferable that regional government bodies reserve funds and devote them to strengthening the web portal at the appropriate time.

“The web portal is in its pilot phase and will move to the next stage of its development when it receives funding in the next budget year,” he said.

The masterplan is not the first e-government project to be in the news in Yangon.

In early 2004, an e-National task Force established by the then military regime unveiled seven e-government pilot projects, including e-passport, e-visa, e-procurement, smart cards and a trade e-date interchange.

Most of the projects were shelved after the purge of the Military Intelligence organization in late 2004.

Link: http://mizzima.com/opinion/features/item/10715-mission-impossible