‘Guyanese have to stop walking with millions of dollars, it doesn’t make sense’ – Minister Cathy Hughes
Government says it will be taking another major leap towards development, this time along technological and digital lines. It will be encouraging, through legislation, the use of cards to transact financial businesses.
Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes said Guyana is still behind in this area, and urged that thoughts against development be wiped out.
“My message to the whole of Guyana is to start thinking differently. We have to start embracing the use of plastic. We have to stop walking with millions of dollars. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world and what we don’t realise is that there is a financial cost to operating financial system so heavily dependent on cash,” Hughes told the media on Friday.
In terms of the legislation, which she hopes to take to Parliament next year, she has already had discussion with Bank of Guyana Governor Gobind Ganga.
“The banking community, the Bank of Guyana is already putting things in place to up the game. So we improve and we move to a less cash-based financial system.”
Hughes, giving more details into the Ministry’s plans for 2017, disclosed that it will be upping the game in the types of services government gives to citizens. She again spoke of making available online service for passport application. This she hopes could be made possible by the end of 2017.
“I’d like to say to you that by the end of 2017, the passport application process should be in a digital format. You should be able to stay at home, apply for your passport and they should get a response from the passport office and they would only have to visit the office to take a photograph and uplift their passport.”
She is also hoping for the same thing for the registry of births and deaths, all other services provided by government to citizens, “we want to be able to do them online”, she said.
According to Hughes, a lot of persons underestimate the powerfulness and benefit of the internet.
She spoke of the recently held hackathon and what she said were the amazing opportunities afforded the many, particularly the youth. There she said, a number of apps were developed.
She said there was an application that was developed that was able to put farmers and markets together.
“There’s a market of 100 pounds of plantains every Thursday morning, who is the farmer that delivers that plantain?” There’s an app she said that is able to address this. The Minister said she recently had a conversation with an overseas-based Guyanese who informed her of the immense need for plantains for what is said to be the fastest growing fast food chain in North America. She said through these applications, farmers can get themselves together in a network, in the “digital game” to get the businesses going and meet the capacity that is demanded in an era where everything is found online.
Meanwhile, Hughes said her ministry is also seeking to expand internet and broadband access to some rural areas, especially the hinterland and rural communities.
“I feel that soon we will be moving in the direction of encouraging everything digital; I feel like we have almost eight out of the ten things that we need. We just don’t maximize it.”