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Philippines' ICT agency chair on challenges ahead
Source: http://www.futuregov.asia/
Source Date: Monday, August 30, 2010
Country: Philippines
Created: Aug 30, 2010

Ivan Uy, the newly appointed Chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology in the Philippines, has revealed his priorities in an interview with FutureGov. The CICT’s future has been in doubt since before the general elections in May, when a bill to create a full-fledged department of ICT was thrown out by congress.

Uy, a former lawyer and CIO of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, was selected by recently elected President Benigno Acquino to replace Ray Roxus-Chua as CICT Chairman earlier this month. This was seen a sign that the new administration would not abolish the country’s main ICT policy-making body as has widely been feared.

On the key challenges of his new role, Uy told FutureGov that his first task involved addressing the concerns of CICT’s stakeholders, in particular sustaining growth in the Philippines’ burgeoning Business Process Outsourcing industry.

BPO is now the second largest contributor to GDP next to Overseas Filipino Workers remittances,” said Uy. “It is in hyper growth mode, growing by 500 per cent over the past five years. The sector needs to be nurtured and allowed to be more globally competitive.”

The second is e-governance. “The CICT is tasked to be the e-governance enabler for government. We should aim to significantly reduce red tape and make it easier for citizens and investors to transact with government online. This will make government more transparent and lessen opportunities for corruption,” he said.

He added that there was a need to cross the traditional “industrial age bureaucratic silos” and allow for a more horizontal sharing of data and information between government agencies.

Uy identified two other key challenges: human capital development and closing the digital divide.

“We need to ensure that the industry is regularly supplied with the appropriate skill sets and talent. This would entail close collaboration between industry and academe to ensure that gaps are quickly addressed,” he said.

To close the digital divide in the archipelago of 4000 inhabited islands, Uy said that efforts should focus on “nurturing next waves cities in the areas outside of the metropolis [of Metro Manila], helping them attain the necessary infrastructure and legal framework to host BPO industries.”

This would eventually reverse migration and help decongest Manila’s crowded roads, he noted.

On changing the CICT itself, Uy said there was a need to inspire and “rekindle the flame of innovation and pro activeness” within the agency.

“While there are several areas that show that spark, many sub sections of the organisation have fallen victim to complacency and apathy that plague many government bureaucracies,” he noted.

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