… the service was launched to coincide with the G2C Office’s one-year anniversary

G2C: The eKaasel, a online platform for citizens to submit grievances related to public service delivery and a contact centre to cater to the ICT illiterate were launched on the one-year anniversary of the G2C (Government to Citizen) Office, yesterday.

Using the eKaasel system (www.citizenservices.gov.bt), citizens will be able to submit complaints, grievances or other feedback, on both G2C as well as non-G2C services. While the submission goes to the head of the concerned department, it could also end up with the secretary of the concerned ministry or even the Prime Minister’s Office.

Citizens can also track their application and view a record of activities being performed related to it. An automated email or SMS will be received by the citizen when the issue is resolved.

The eKaasel system compliments the Prime Minister’s eDesk, launched in March, by providing a bottom up tool to ensure better, more efficient and faster delivery of public services.

A contact centre (1199) for G2C services, being piloted since September, was also launched. The centre is being managed by two bilingual agents who will be able to help callers with information related to 26 G2C services.

The centre was created to make the G2C system more inclusive, by providing a platform for those who are ICT illiterate to obtain information using simple technology like the mobile phone.

The centre was also established to have a single point of contact for all G2C related information, so citizens do not have to visit multiple websites or call multiple officials.

G2C Office head, Sonam P Thaye, explained that while the centre will only be providing information for now, the next step would be for the centre to even process applications like the Security Clearance Certificate.

“What we found was that most of the initiatives taken up by earlier agencies were primarily focused on ICT and this did not really include the citizens who were not able to browse the internet, or navigate through mobile apps,” she said.

Since its pilot began, the centre has already handled 600 calls.

Other projects in the pipe-line were also revealed. A survey carried out this year found that citizens want to see the marriage certificate, the cooking gas and fuel distribution system, and the timber permit procedures brought online.

As a result the G2C Office is currently working with the judiciary to include the marriage certificate procedure as a G2C service, along with another five judiciary services.

In what will be welcomed by those who wait in queue, sometimes for hours, for LPG cylinders at the Mothithang fuel depot, the G2C Office is also collaborating with the economic affairs ministry to create a mobile app with the aim to reduce waiting times.

An election service mobile app that will allow citizens to examine their voter registration status and determine their polling station is also in the works. Another app is also being developed for the Dzongkha Development Commission.

The G2C Office will also be including six more provident fund services and three housing development to the 47 G2C services currently available.

Sonam P Thaye also spoke about the G2C Office’s first year of operations. She pointed out that when the office was established it found there were 200 public services of which 160 had been automated under other projects. But following an assessment, it would found that only 36 were functional. She pointed out that the plan is to have at least 100 G2C services available within the 11th Plan.

One of the main challenges preventing more public services is the lack of an online payment platform. More than 70 services require some fee payment. While the G2C Office introduced a short term solution with a mobile payment service called the G2C-Wallet in March, only three thromde services can be paid for using the service.

Sonam P Thaye explained that the revenue and customs department has advised that no more agencies should be included until its revenue and administration management information system (RAMIS) launched earlier this year is fully functional and stabilized.

The long term solution is for an online payment gateway to be established. However, its development would require the involvement of multiple agencies and organizations, and will cost the government significantly. Sonam P Thaye said that the G2C Office is collaborating with the Department of Information Technology and Telecom and the Royal Monetary Authority to develop this online payment gateway.

The gateway is expected to be ready by June, next year.

It was also found that many agencies were not willing to take ownership of the G2C services developed for them. As a result, three measures were pursued. One being the PM’s eDesk to monitor how fast applications are handled, the addition of an improving public service delivery field in the annual performance agreements, and the eKaasel.

However, Sonam P Thaye said the next step is for a legally binding document to ensure ownership and service delivery improvements.

The cost-benefits of the G2C services was also studied and show significant savings. Five services were studied and a benefit of Nu 1.31 billion (B) and a net benefit of Nu 0.9 million was found as opposed to Nu 0.39B being invested. “It makes very good economic sense to invest in public services, not only from a social point of view but also from an economic point of view,” Sonam P Thaye said.

Other challenges include internet connectivity problems and winning the trust and confidence of users.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who attended the event as chief guest, highlighted the importance of the G2C system. He said that the difference between developed and underdeveloped countries is that people in developed countries enjoy convenient, fast, and effective access to services.

Lyonchoen added that if the government provided timely and quality access to services, citizens would work harder and the country would develop. “If not, people will get demotivated and won’t work hard,” he said.

Gyalsten K Dorji