St Kitts-Nevis Government names ICT development as key driver of national development

via Caribbean News Now BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- The government of St Kitts and Nevis has targeted telecommunications and technology as sectors that will play a critical role in the sustainability and growth of the twin-island Federation.

This was outlined by the Minister responsible for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Glenn Phillip, on Wednesday as he weighed in on the parliamentary debate for the 2011 Budget.

“My ministry … is fully engaged in assuring that we (the country) realize the benefits to our economy, our social infrastructure, and our government to citizen interactions,” he said, noting the benefits of advancing the sectors. “Building the telecommunications and technology infrastructure, guarantees that we will have cutting edge technology and telecommunication facilities, which are fundamental to the development of this country.”

The application of technology to reduce costs and improve efficiency has been evident in the public sector. In 2010, a human resource information system (HRIS) was launched to track payroll, benefits administration and performance record. A similar system was launched in the Joseph N. France General Hospital to help with inventory controls and the disbursement of medicines to patients.

Phillip added that the communication cost of government will be tackled in the New Year with the introduction of a new system for internal and external communication.

While the infrastructure and related hardware and software components have been or are being installed, the human resource capacity is also being uplifted. Phillip indicated that this year, the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centre has hosted over 900 persons from various private and public sector institutions for a number of training programs.

“Public officials from health institutions, from the tax and banking institutions, from education tourism and national security, have all been the beneficiaries of computer based training programs conducted at the center,” he told the National Assembly.

“Mr Speaker, as we see growth in technology and telecommunications, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that the legislative platform is in place which allows for the conduct of e-commerce, provides e-evidence in court, fights crime through the interception of communications, and establishes the privacy and data protection to the ordinary citizens and our business require,” he continued.

“To that end, earlier this year we were the host to an important meeting – part of a regional series – which seeks to establish a common and harmonized legislative platform, to ensure that our legislation keeps pace with the requirements of the changing technological and telecommunications space,” Phillip said.

“The result of such harmonized legislation, places our country in alignment with the positions existent in the CARICOM region, and is in line with international standards that affect our ability to trade with the world. The effect is that our legislative platform meets with the expected norms, practices and protections expected in our relationships with potential investors and other partners,” he said.

He added that government will continue to provide opportunities for students to pursue higher level and professional qualifications in technology at universities and other institutions of higher learning.