Like his predecessors, the Hon Christopher Sinckler is encouraging Barbadian service providers to export more. We would like to, but we need his help. Since Government is the largest service provider in Barbados, he needs to encourage his colleagues to improve the efficiency of those government departments with which we must interact. One example should suffice.
The sticker that enveloped my road tax certificate was coming off of my windscreen. I therefore moved it from the left side of the windscreen to my right so that I could periodically push it back on. Later that day, before I could get to my insurance company to get a replacement sticker envelope, I was stopped by the police. They informed me that it was an offence to drive with the road tax not displayed on the right side of the vehicle. I acknowledged that I was not aware of the offence and offered to pay the fine. I was told that I would have to appear before a magistrate.
I subsequently received a letter instructing me to appear before the magistrate on a specified date. On the stated day, I attended the magistrate’s court as instructed, and took out my laptop computer to do some work while I waited. I was told to put it away. I therefore took out a note pad to write some correspondence, but was told to put that away also. I therefore took out a typed report in order to edit it, but was told that I could do no work whatsoever while in the court room. I therefore had to sit and listen to the cases before mine.
After most of the day had been spent, my name was called, and I stood in the dock. I pleaded guilty and was fined $300 forthwith. I went to the accounts section as ordered and offered my credit card to pay the fine, which they bemusedly refused. I therefore took out my cheque book and inquired to whom I should write the cheque. They told me that I had to pay cash. I explained that I did not have that amount of cash on me. They told me to either call someone or transportation would be provided to me, free of cost, to the remand section of the prison, because the magistrate stated that the fine was to be paid forthwith.
Not wanting to place my life in anyone’s hands, I asked whether I could go to the bank and withdraw some funds. They stated that if I was not back within the hour, then a warrant would be issued for my arrest. I therefore ran as fast as I could to Broad Street, found a bank, and waited in the ATM line for what seemed like a very long time. After withdrawing the funds, I raced back to the magistrate’s court, slowing down while passing the Central Police Station lest I be delayed unnecessarily. I made it back with 20 minutes to spare.
What is restraining me from spending my time exporting as the Hon Sinckler would like? The time wasted waiting to receive frustratingly inefficient government services. I am including government’s statutory corporations as agencies that provide government’s services. How can this be improved? There are so many ways. Why not start with the following 5 initiatives?
- Allow payments for government services to be paid by credit card and on-line.
- Do not allow the majority of cashiers to take lunch between 12:00 noon and 1:30 pm when persons are trying to fit in paying their bills within their lunch hour.
- Extend the hours that government departments can receive payments.
- Allow drop off facilities for those who simply cannot visit the government department during the department’s normal working hours.
- Allow the police to fine persons on the spot for minor traffic offences. Those who wish to challenge the fines can spend their time in the court room.