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It Takes 4.2 Hours on Average to Complete a Government Procedure - IDB


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It Takes 4.2 Hours on Average to Complete a Government Procedure - IDB

Panama places 4th among 18 Central American countries in a study made by the Inter American Development Bank which measured the average amount of time required to complete a bureaucratic process.

IDB Ohigginis Arcia Jaramillo Sep 16 2018  La Prensa


Obtaining the birth certificate, registering a property, starting a construction, opening a business or paying a traffic ticket are a headache for the common citizens and businessmen.

"It lacks a seal"; "Come back tomorrow", are familiar phrases for anyone who has visited a public institution to complete a procedure. It is no secret that bureaucracy is one of the negative elements in public management.

That is the result of a report prepared by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), published this year and called The end of the eternal process, which shows that the public institutions of the region are not well coordinated with each other, that they still work with archives. of paper and who are more worried about complying with bureaucratic norms than about providing agile and efficient services.

The complexity of the bureaucracy in Latin America translates into the fact that doing a face-to-face procedure takes an average of 5.4 hours. When the problem is analyzed in a specific way, the differences between countries are remarkable.

While in Bolivia completing a process involves more than 11 hours, in Chile that transaction can be done in just over 2 hours. In Panama, the average is 4.2 hours, that is, the country is, comparatively speaking, more agile than the regional average.

The complexity

But the complexity of a procedure is not only measured from the number of hours needed to complete it, but also by factors such as the number of trips to the management offices, multiple requirements, the need to leave papers in person and the lack of clarity with respect to information. All this contributes - according to the IDB report - to citizens having to go to the public office more than once to obtain what they are looking for.

In the region, on average, a quarter of the procedures (25%) require three or more interactions for resolution. As far as Panama is concerned, where there are more than 3 thousand different procedures, 31% of these require three or more interactions for its conclusion. This places it in the fourth place among 18 countries in Latin America where more steps must be taken to complete a process.

In this line, Panama is only surpassed by Bolivia (41% of the procedures), Peru (41%) and Guatemala (37%). (See graphic).

But what impact does this have on the citizen?


The document states that manual procedures, face-to-face interactions and the lack of standardization of processes make the procedures vulnerable to dishonest behavior, such as the payment of bribes, which leads to corruption.

In turn, lower-income citizens have access to fewer procedures because they often do not have flexibility in their working hours and have trouble asking for permission to leave the job and have the hours necessary to go to a public office. In addition, the absence in working hours and the cost of transactions of the process (transport, photocopies, etc.) represent a decrease in wage income.

To get an idea, currently in Latin America 89% of the procedures are done in person, which forces the countries to allocate thousands of officials to work in windows of attention to the public and compile files.

Faced with this scenario, IDB experts propose "digital procedures" as a response to many of the problems of the modern bureaucracy.

For Maribel Jaén, representative of the Justice and Peace Commission, the IDB report confirms what has been denounced for decades: "the excess of bureaucracy generates corruption."

"The efforts so far are not enough and it is time to make a transformation in public administration," he said.

According to Jaén, "more expeditious" and "efficient" procedures are required that generate a "greater confidence" of the citizen towards the State.

The business sector is also aware of this. This year, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) urged the government to "adopt" measures to prevent the pace of public administration efforts from slowing down with the start of the electoral campaign, as is generally the case .

"The bureaucracy is the most negative element to doing business in Panama," says a note made public by this union.

However, he acknowledged the progress made in this field by the National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG), as well as by the working tables of the Competitiveness Forum and the National Center for Competitiveness, aimed at the modernization of the State.

Specifically, the Cciap referred to the established goals to put at least 450 online procedures (of a total of 3 thousand 700), before the end of this government. His conclusion was clear: "we must insist, also, to give priority to the incorporation of the most advanced technologies to streamline procedures and improve management in the various entities through the digital transformation, and to continue this effort in the next governments, as a State policy that allows us to increase our competitiveness ".


Current reality

The AIG is the entity responsible for scanning the procedures. Its administrator, Irvin Halman, details that so far there are 120 procedures online, when before there were only about 30, although the goal is to have 450 by the end of 2019.

In addition, he said that there are another 250 about which are completing some processes to also put them online. The inventory that manages this entity is that in the country there are carried out 2 thousand 700 procedures that correspond to institutions of the central government, and another thousand to the municipalities.

"We want to simplify the procedures with the entities and promote digital transformation processes to improve the service provided to taxpayers," he said.

Halman stressed that this is accompanied by a national internet network, which now covers 85% of the country's population, so that the citizen -both in rural and urban areas- can transact with the State. "This will be something of several governmental efforts," he added.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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