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2006-07-25 07:31:55

Bahamas Laws Now Online

They may be online, but it is a real pity that Bahamas laws can not be found in Bahamian court rooms.

Bahamians and foreigners alike now have access to the laws of The Bahamas from any computer anywhere in the world with Internet access.

Minister of State for Finance James Smith and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Allyson Maynard-Gibson on Monday launched The Bahamas Laws Online project at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, pointing to the importance of moving the government farther into the modern age.

"Availability of the laws online is critical to knowing your rights and obligations and for the Bahamian businessman, what services and concessions are available to advance his or her business," said Minister Maynard-Gibson, adding that for businesspersons in particular this is a critical issue.

She said the launch of the website demonstrates the government's commitment to the financial services sector being "blue chip, well regulated and cooperative."

"This is further manifestation of the government's commitment to empower citizens, by which we include persons living in The Bahamas, by making government services available online," Minister Maynard-Gibson said.

She explained that the new service will feature convenient round-the-clock access to the Statute Laws of The Bahamas, selected texts of the laws passed from April 2002 to 2005 and a listing of the annual Acts passed from April 2002.

As for the subsidiary legislation, Minister Maynard-Gibson added, these web pages are presently under construction and once quality assurance has been completed, these too will become available.

The initiative is part of the wider Bahamas Government Online (BGOL) project, which Minister Smith said is a comprehensive, long-term strategy to transform and modernize government services and the business of government using information and communication technologies.

He explained that it involves providing greater access to government information, the electronic delivery of government services, and ultimately re-engineering business processes within and across government agencies to improve efficiency in government administration.

"Recognising that the BGOL initiative is a long-term one, simultaneously the decision was taken to advance certain initiatives that could be realized in a shorter period of time and ones that serve the broad objective of a customer-centric approach to delivery of services," Minister Smith said.

"The fast-track projects or quick-wins are intended to generate momentum and awareness, while at the same time demonstrate quick successes."

Other quick-win projects in the works, he said, include an initiative that would allow online tracking of parcel and registered mail; a network of public access terminals within public libraries and at the College of The Bahamas; an online labour databank for employers and employees; the availability of cabinet conclusions in a secure online environment for permanent secretaries; and the availability of a range of government forms online for download.

Minister Smith said that as part of its ongoing strategy, additional quick wins will be identified by the high-level Inter-Agency Planning Group made up of permanent secretaries, within the BGOL organisational structure.

He pointed out that the laws online project was identified several years ago as part of the business facilitation focus, which initially characterised the government's e-commerce agenda.

Canadian government consultants were engaged for the project, which officials said cost more than $50,000.

By: Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

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