ROC Taiwan helps GOB offer services online with BELAPS

By William Ysaguirre
Freelance Reporter

The Government of Belize is moving increasingly into the digital age, by rolling out services which citizens may access securely online from the comfort of their living room or office. This means 24-hour access, no more waiting in line, or having to travel to Belmopan for the first 24 such services, which are part of the first phase of GOB’s gradual transition to offer e-government, through the Belize Electronic License and Permit System (BELAPS).

The BELAPS project now allows several government departments to deliver “one-stop, digitalized and integrated” import/export licensing services to the citizens and Belizean businesses. The agencies now operational with this system include the Fisheries and Forestry, Departments, the Belize Bureau of Standards, Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and Ministry of Agriculture.

Chief Technology Officer Michael Singh said one of the principal advantages of the digital process is that it is fast, fair, secure, transparent, and fully accountable. Digitizing the application process as an electronic transaction increases the accuracy, because it removes the human element and possibility for an errant employee to divert funds or to gain unauthorized access to Belize’s natural resources. It eliminates the opportunity for malfeasance and so removes the possibility of corruption. He said the Government has 170 such processes that it wishes to offer in like manner online.

The BELAPS system is the result of a US$1.8 Million 5-year project involving the transfer of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) between Taiwan and Belize, which has helped GOB improve the efficiency of delivery of import/export licenses, and the issuance of permits. The Republic of China on Taiwan provided $1.5Million of the total budget for the project.

The Central Information Technology Office (CITO) within the Ministry of Finance helped create the BELAPS system in collaboration with Hyweb Technology Company Ltd of Taiwan. Faber congratulated CITO’s Director Francisco Gonzalez on the successful completion of the project
Public users now have 24-hour online access and payment to 24 different import/export electronic licenses and permits. BELAPS is also linked to the Customs Department’s Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), so statistical data can now be gathered to help the Government monitor imports and exports, and the resultant revenue for the country and for Government. The Statistics Institute of Belize and the Belize Bureau of Standards can now collect market and trade data in a more efficient, cost effective manner.

This e-government project also served to improve the ICT capabilities of Belizean government workers. The public servants who work are administrators, approvers, verifiers and maintenance personnel were all trained to ensure sustainable operation of the system. Another 250 public users were also trained to use the system, and they will become the trainers who will help cooperating government agencies to build their capacity to develop necessary supporting systems independently.
At the conclusion of ceremony on Thursday, Minister Faber joined Ambassador Liu in presenting commemorative plaques to the participating government agencies, including the Treasury Department, and to many private sector users, including the Atlantic Bank, Pine Lumber Company, the National Fisherman’s Producers Cooperative, Rainforest Seafoods Co. Ltd., James Brodie & Co. Ltd, Blue Creek Hatchery Ltd and to Hytech Technology Co. Ltd.

Taiwan is also helping GOB to deliver e-government in other sectors; and another ICT project is under development – the Motor Vehicle Registration and License System (BMVRALS). Taiwan remains a committed partner in Belize’s economic development, in upgrading and diversifying the economy, and in national development through ICT and many other cooperation projects.

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