ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is a valuable tool that can be used for the economic development of the country. And in a region where other countries are already ahead in using ICT to their benefit, we are still struggling to make effective used of it. A government level commission on ICT was formerly created which was later merged with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST). Whether it should be an independent department or continue to be part of the DoST is not so much the question as to whether the government is giving its due importance to its role in economic development. Given how it has function so far, maybe the need of making it a cabinet level department is essential for this purpose.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
July 30, 2012
Transition through ICT
THE STATE of the Nation Address recently delivered by our P-Noy was a welcome relief that indeed Philippine reforms are moving forward in various functional areas of public service.
The changes and reforms which were reported by P-Noy have been expected, given his firm stand for a corruption-free and progressive Philippines.
As a private citizen, I also have a firm stand for a government that works and that is in consideration of the new world we live in. In the last decade, amid rapid changes brought about by information and communications technology (ICT), countries experienced deep transformation in the way their economic activities and societies are organized. We now live in a connected world where the sense of urgency and constant accessibility have redefined our relationships, whether those are among individuals, businesses and the government.
Those countries that recognize potential opportunities that ICT offers were better prepared to reap its benefits and were also able to mitigate any risks of these technologies.
The benefits of ICT which can be achieved have been well-researched and have also been widely documented. For instance, healthcare practitioners can access patient information instantly like taking one’s blood pressure can be as quick as just touching your iphone with your forefinger or the many different banking applications on your desk or e-commerce which brought instantaneous businesses for many of our citizens.
The Global Information Technology Report 2012 of the World Economic Forum raises constant awareness on several factors that drive the capacity of countries to transform and benefit from the multiple impacts that ICT can bring about. The report is a comprehensive survey on the determinants to leverage ICT for increased competitiveness of nations. In this report, Philippine performance is disappointing — we rated # 86, Indonesia #80, Vietnam # 83, and Singapore #2. Our efforts in using and promoting ICT remained timid. In the light of the many reported shortcomings, the economic and social impact of ICT on our country is necessarily limited.
The ranking formula looks simple and the key principles in winning our ICT game also are straightforward and so the actions are also necessarily not too complex.
Consider that the Philippine government is one of the biggest employers in this country, if not the biggest, given that the Government Service Insurance System maintains one of the largest databases globally and also one of the largest databases of customers — the Filipino people of almost 100 million. Its network of partners in the private sector also account for millions of businesses since the Social Security System also maintains over 20 million members. What about those millions of taxpayers in the Bureau of Internal Revenue database and the millions of local and international trade transactions that are processed at the Bureau of Customs or the Philippine Ports Authority? Yes, we also want to keep count of the tourist arrivals in Puerto Princesa, whose Underground River has been voted to be among the New 7 Wonders of Nature. One can imagine how to process those collections at the Underground River. Oh yes, what about the processing, recording and monitoring of the Conditional Cash Transfer transactions? Aren’t those in the billions of pesos that we want to ensure accuracy and timeliness in reporting use of taxpayers’ money? And we also want a universal healthcare program, meaning capturing in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. system even the most basic medical data. What about the database of our millions of overseas Filipino workers who have been the lifeblood of our economy as they continue to bring in billions of dollars worth of remittances? And how do we monitor the thousands of government projects in terms of budget, actual expenses and their percentages of completion? There are so many more of these functional areas in government where the development of and general uptake of ICT is critical.
There is a blank canvass in front of us now because, really, in the Executive Branch of our government, no one is in charge and no one is centrally accountable for how much money and how much resources we are throwing in for ICT solutions that are being implemented in government.
No one oversees the integration of a true ICT blueprint to transform Philippine systems we are building so that we can harness the economic and social impact on the quality of life of Filipinos as well as improve the quality and outcomes of public services like health and education.
We look forward to an ICT framework that provides clear policy orientation in the implementation and monitoring of public-private partnership opportunities.
As a country capable of developing and absorbing new knowledge, there is a need to develop and execute an integrated ICT program which can enable innovations to improve the overall productivity of the Philippine government.
We in the private sector are committed to interact and co-evolve within the country’s ICT ecosystem.
The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has organized an ICT Forum on August 6, Monday, 1:30-5:00 PM at the InterContinental Manila with the theme: “DICT: Is it Really Necessary for Philippine Transformation?” (DICT stands for Department of ICT). I am inviting everyone to this forum which will discuss how we can successfully leverage ICT in our competitiveness strategies.
We want enrolment in innovation and for ICT to be present everywhere in all areas of society — most importantly, harnessing ICT to empower citizens to participate more actively in social and political discussions so that we can obtain better and faster public services.
The author is Vice-Chairperson of the MAP ICT Committee and President and CEO of Pentathlon Systems Resources, Inc. Readers may send feedback through email@example.com. For previous articles, please visitwww.map.org.ph.