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Digital push

A willingness to adopt technologies and processes that improve efficiencies has been a defining feature of Oman’s government and its leaders. No wonder that the nation has always been in the forefront of inducting information and communication technologies in government processes. This has helped make service delivery efficient and boosted e-participation that enables the users to modify the services the way they want them. The civic authorities in Muscat have also taken the cue from the government in deploying appropriate technologies. It is right that they promote the use of the civic app that ensures that the public can have most of their civic services at their fingertips. The app can come to the service of the public for day-to-day services like paying for vehicle parking and removal of waste as well as infrequently used services like removing an obstructing tree. The civic campaign that will continue through December is calculated to attract more users to the app. It not only helps the users to stay updated on the latest procedures but also avail themselves of the specialised services without having to travel to different offices. While the website has long been in existence, the potential of using online services multiplies several fold with the availability of the app. Every citizen and resident in the Sultanate has a smartphone and the app puts a civic office in every pocket, so to speak. The Sultanate has high level of Internet penetration and there are more smartphones than the population. The efficacy of the app is such that the payments due to the civic agencies can be made right from home, without the user having to stir out of their couch.

It is commendable that the Sultanate leads the region in the e-governance considering the number of government services available online. The sweeping switch is paying rich dividends with high degree of compliance. The smart edge is indeed pushing up the efficiency of the services even as the public are experiencing the convenience of getting most civic-related business done from home. Government efficiencies improve when enabling processes are in place. The InvestEasy portal has vastly simplified the processes for investment. Thanks to the streamlined processes, investor interest in the nation is already soaring. Just as the apps of Muscat Municipality, those like OIFC’s Khedmah have helped customers to promptly pay their dues in time, thus financially benefiting the organisations. The users benefit through timely payments in that they do not accumulate fines. Of course the Sultanate’s switch to e-visa has been a huge success with all stakeholders welcoming the measure. After the e-visa system was opened to people from 67 nations belonging to 116 occupations, about 4,000 visas were issued marking a sharp increase in a matter of weeks. This no doubt will particularly benefit the government’s tourism push. It is encouraging that the rise in e-participation by all stakeholders is a definitive feature of the Sultanate’s successful digitisation drive. E-participation is the result of the opening up of feedback channels for all stakeholders to interact with the organisation, thus influencing the shape and quality of products and services that are ultimately delivered to the end-users.