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Bahrain e-services push to cost $79m

Manama, May 17, 2010

A hi-tech makeover for the Bahrain government will have cost BD30 million ($79.6 million) by the time the project is completed, it has emerged.

That is how much it is costing to put all government services online, eGovernment Authority chief executive officer Mohammed Al Qaed told a Press conference on the eve of Bahrain International eGovernment Forum 2010.

The three-day event is being held from 10am to 6pm at Isa Cultural Centre. Entry is free.

He said the entire project should be completed by the end of this year, adding that it had cost almost 50 per cent more than expected.

'Originally, we had BD22 million earmarked for e-services, but it has increased as the services increased - the ones we were not informed of before,' he said.

'The systems are already available through individual ministries and government organisations - we just need to link them and this costs a lot of money.

'Linking also requires a lot of co-ordination efforts and this is why we are here and we are working according to the timeframe we have set and are even surpassing it, and that's excellent.'

He added that a report was now being prepared on strengths and weaknesses in online services offered by ministries and other government organisations.

'We want to offer flawless services online and some are easy, while others are difficult, and to achieve our goals we have to identify if we are to finish before the end of this year,' he added.

Al Qaed made his comments during the launch of two new online services by the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry.

The ministry is now accepting online applications for building and advertising permits - meaning companies and individuals no longer need to visit the ministry to get approval for new buildings or advertising.

They take the total number of online services offered by the ministry to 16, which is 80 per cent of all its services.

'Having those two new services online is an achievement considering that involved a lot of co-ordination between the five municipalities and councils, among others associated with municipal services,' Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi told a Press conference to announce the launch.

'At the moment, getting advertising licences takes some time considering that permits are granted by different municipalities, which are divided according to Bahrain's five governorates.

'But now it will be one application and will be divided across the municipalities concerned automatically.'

He added that online building permit applications would be available to residents and investors in Bahrain.

'The system will turn down the application online if it doesn't fulfil all conditions and the applicant is then referred to the concerned municipality for manual intervention,' he added.

The next ministry services to go online will be reclamation and digging applications.

'Those services are more complicated than the two we are now offering and require at least a year for us to have them online, but we are confident that with our joint efforts we may have them before the deadline,' said Dr Al Ka'abi.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: IT | e-Services | Bahrain International eGovernment Forum |

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