This paper analyzes current e-government trends in Latin America and the Caribbean. The authors also critically look into the problems and opportunities of using new technologies as a tool to transform the public sector. How do new technologies enhance democracy? How do they set up countries to compete in the networked economy? It analyzes knowledge-intensity and the fast pace of global economies. The authors find that the region is falling behind others in government preparedness and usage.
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Despite outstanding exceptions, the authors discover, e-government initiatives throughout the region have focused on front-end service transactions but little on innovation and institutional growth and change. This paper discusses the key policy challenges governments may consider in the future. It points out that e-government is essentially a political, not a technical project. Recognizing the political and institutional change nature of e-government provides the key to moving e-government beyond ‘window dressing’ and towards realizing the transformational potential of ICTs for governance and public service performance.
The paper suggests key measures to harness this potential for public sector reform, including informed and committed leadership, a national consensus on ICT-enabled reforms, incentives for sustained institutional change and process innovation, ICT governance and institutional framework for interagency coordination, public-private partnership, and linking vision to implementation mechanisms, multi-year investment plans, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.
A country that enters into an economic integration has to abide by the rules of the integration. In the case of the euro zone, all countries are required to align their agricultural, economic, and industrial legislation with the requirements laid down. Additionally, the financial policies of a country must be in line with the European community. It is also mandatory to have certain taxation regimes and to have certain tariffs and subsidies.
Additionally, a country aligns its budgetary requirements with those of other countries in the eurozone. A country is also restricted from conducting business with another country if it can conduct that business with a country in the European community. All these are legal consequences that come with integration elsewhere. One of the reasons why trade integration treaties do not work is because most countries do not take the integration seriously. Also, the structures in place to ensure that these rules are adhered to watered down by the fact that a country has the free will to pull out at any time.
Poor members are one of the major reasons why economic integration is hard. Poor members feel like they are alienated and are not enjoying similar benefits as the rest. This had threatened the very existence of the Euro Zone in the 1980s. These disparities include per capita income, infrastructure developments, education levels, productivity, and employment. All these led to trade imbalances and hence poor countries were feeling the brunt.
Efforts were made to harmonize this and some years later a fund specifically designed to address these problems was set up. These structural policies systematically advocated the introduction of new provisions that would make social and economic cohesions a common goal. Most integration treaties do not go to that extent. This means that in the end, most poor countries that are hungry for domestic development pull out. Eventually, the ability of the integration to continue working is severely scuttled.
Rubino-Hallman, S & Hanna, N 2007, New Technologies for Public Sector Transformation, Journal of E-Government, Vol. 3 no. 3 pp 3-39.