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It’s been more than a year since the less paper initiative was adopted but we’re still seeing an unreasonable amount of paper floating around.

While the use of paper cannot be completely eliminated, it can be reduced to a bare minimum. For instance, some offices still requires applicants to fill in physical forms for straight forward procedures like the loss of a document or card. By this stage of the process, applicants could be given the option of either filling in a physical or electronic form.

Progress is being made but not fast enough. There are processes that don’t have to be paper-based anymore.

However, it is must be acknowledged that before attempting to go paperless we need the proper guidelines and systems in place. It is good news that training on implementing these guidelines have now started. From the beginning of next year, we expect to see many more processes using less or no paper at all.

Once the less paper initiative is in full swing, it is estimated that the cost savings will be Nu 11,600 per person per annum. Besides also helping to save the environment, the financial savings for a cash strapped country would be significant. These two reasons alone should help to convince anyone who still wants to maintain long and winding paper trails that today belong in the hallowed halls of bloated bureaucracy.

But there are some issues that need to receive equal focus as we move online.

One is security. By adopting Google Apps, the government believes its information and communications is secure. It most likely is and perhaps it is worth the high price as well. But because we currently lack the capacity to develop our own online systems, especially ones that would be secure on a level equivalent to Google Apps, we should be concerned if our information will be safe, and about the costs if we have to continue seeking foreign third parties to host the information.

Eventually, we need our own local secure systems. For that to happen, we need to invest in human resources which may take time.

The other is internet connectivity. Just this week, an outage off the coast of India disrupted connectivity in Bhutan. The need for a second link to the internet is essential and urgent.

For there to be reliable internet connectivity, there must also be reliable electricity nationwide or at least there must be back up power for all agencies that are moving online.

The future is less or no paper at all. The journey has begun. All must move in this direction.

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