By: Isuru Parakrama
Colombo (LNW): State Minister of Technology Kanaka Herath has urged officials at the Ministry of Technology to take immediate measures to implement a plan to make electronic payment facilities mandatory for all public sector institutions. The Minister’s call to action was made during the monthly progress review meeting of the Ministry of Technology.
It has been acknowledged that many government institutions lack the technical facilities needed for the public to make electronic payments using digital technology. The current practice of issuing handwritten receipts for cash transactions is both time-consuming and informal, making the development of electronic payment facilities a priority. The 2023 budget has proposed to implement this project under the subject Ministry and it will be mandatory for all payments and collections in the public sector to be made electronically.
The government will take proactive measures to address the technical limitations faced by government institutions in implementing electronic payments, and effective measures will be taken in the coming month of July to provide technical guidance and instructions to all relevant institutions, said Janaka Sampath Geekianage, Director (Development) of the Ministry.
A committee consisting of high-level representatives from key government organisations, including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Technology, and the Ministry of Public Administration, has been established to oversee this initiative. The committee has already taken steps to prepare necessary plans, make decisions, and provide the technical guidance required to ensure the successful implementation of electronic payments in government institutions.
The Ministry of Technology is also taking steps to inform the public about this initiative and expand the existing electronic payment system currently in operation in the private sector and limited public sector institutions. Vehicle licence fees, birth, marriage, and death certificates can already be obtained through electronic payments and the Ministry of Technology aims to expand this service further.
Minister Herath highlighted that this development is aimed at providing greater convenience for citizens and streamlining the process of accessing government services. By allowing for remote access, it eliminates the need for in-person visits to government institutions, saving time and effort for citizens. Additionally, the implementation of electronic payments is expected to reduce financial irregularities and corruption by conducting all transactions in a secure and transparent manner.
Encouraging citizens to make use of these electronic payment facilities and making the required payments to state bodies through these digital means would also be of importance, he added. These efforts are being made to establish a digital economy, Herath further emphasised.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the Ministry of Technology Prof. Neranjan Gunawardena confirmed that all necessary steps will be taken to officially launch this initiative by September of the current year and to fully implement it in all government institutions by March 1, 2024.