The eRevenue Licence facility which enables vehicle revenue licence to be issued afresh or renewed by applying for it from home without physically going to the relevant Government office is a dream come true.
This was stated by President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga when he, as Chief Guest, addressed the ceremony for the launching of the eRevenue Licence held at the Western Province Department of Motor Traffic, Maligawatte recently.
Thanks to the eRevenue Licence service thus launched by the year end, renewal and/or new issue of vehicle revenue licence in the Western Province could take place online.
eRevenue Licence is a facility under the Lanka Gate Project put in place under the Re-engineering Government Programme of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) which implements the eSri Lanka initiative.
The eSri Lanka initiative, on its part, is the national ICT thrust for making the benefits of ICT accrue to all the people of Sri Lanka as envisaged in the Mahinda Chintana Policy Statement of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
This eRevenue Licence service could be accessed through the country portal http://www.srilanka.lk/ which is the one-stop e-shop for Government service.
Being taken up with the wonder of the facility which was demonstrated at the inauguration ceremony by an actual applicant applying for his vehicle revenue licence online Weeratunga explained the revolutionary change the facility had brought about.
The President's Secretary said that the launch was indeed a fulfilment of the expectation of the President from the time of his ascendancy to the position of Prime Minister in 2004 and ICT was within his portfolio.
"ICT for development is so dear to the President that it has continued and still continues to be under his direct guidance. The President has always been concerned about making the benefits of ICT accrue to the people, whether they are in Moneragala, Jaffna or Colombo. The President believes that two things are important for the betterment of the people of Sri Lanka: They are English and ICT. That is the reason why the President declared 2009 as the year of English and ICT. This emphasis must continue," he said.
Weeratunga continued: "The President is so keen on empowerment that comes to the people through these two tools that the Government is now much into the programme of improving the Spoken English of the people. Eighty persons have been sent to Hyderabad to learn about training others on spoken English. 'Speak the English That You Know' is an apt slogan in this regard.
Making a comparison, the Secretary to the President said: "Computer literacy in 2004 was four per cent. Now it is nearly 30 per cent while the current computer awareness is 45 per cent. The President's idea is to take English and ICT to the village. The 600 Nenasalas and the 5,200 Government secondary schools island-wide play an important role in taking English and ICT to the village. The President's goal is to soon increase the number of Nenasalas to 1,000."
"Currently 3,200 Government secondary schools have computer laboratories with each such school having about 15 to 20 computers. The people in the village are now able to use the computer facilities in the Nenasalas which according to the advice of the President have been set up mainly in Buddhist Temple, Hindu Kovil, Christian Church and Muslim Mosque premises."
Explaining how lack of computer skills in a family could be solved, Weeratunga continued: "It is heartening to note that children are now able to use the computer and fill in online the application for needs like the vehicle revenue licence and compensate for the lack of computer skills on the part of their parents."
"At the same time there are instances of money in the range of Rs. 7,500 being charged for computer courses by private agencies without any real computer knowledge acquired by the student. They are issued beautiful certificates but these do not help them to get employment or be self-employed. To get over this problem the Government has introduced National Vocational Qualification programme which ensures that the person who has this NVC has the relevant skills."
Referring to the recent launch of eDS Weeratunga went on to say: "Recently we witnessed the launch of the eDivisional Service project which offers a centralised solution for the hassles which people in the past had to encounter when they had to get a job done. Information formerly kept restricted to each Divisional Secretariat can now be commonly shared."
"In the past the people had to travel about 30 or 40 kilometres to get a document from the relevant Grama Niladhari signed by the GN and countersigned by the AGA/Secretary or the Administrative Officer who is authorised to countersign the GN's document on behalf of the AGA/Secretary. Under the eDivisional Service the required document could be obtained within a matter of minutes."
The Secretary to the President said that Sri Lanka had made its mark in the international arena as well. The GIC or the 1919 project enables any one to get information about the services done by any Government institution from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 365 days of the year in Sinhala, Tamil or English.
This service is also available from Sri Lanka for inquirers from overseas. This and the 'Impaired Aid' project which empowers the aurally impaired persons won world awards in 2009.
Asserting that we have indeed made great strides the Presidential Secretary said: "So we are now on a high level of development. All these have not come about overnight. Much 'behind-the-scenes' work has been done by a large number of people. The private sector too has helped. Bringing about a development of this size is a tremendous success.
In the private sector what is required for innovation are board approval and the funds. This is not so in the public sector. Regulations have to be followed. Every cent has to be accounted for. We have not circumvented the rules but adhered to them."
Referring to the future the Secretary to the President said that these achievements comprised the early phase of a massive development. "There are other marvellous future achievements to be reached in the coming years. The eGovernment Policy which was submitted to the cabinet by the President and approved in early December is a big step towards the achievement of these never-before-envisaged great phase of development," Weeratunga added.
Weeratunga thanked all concerned for their contribution towards the great heights reached in ICT for development. Special tributes were made to ICTA.