IN the few past years most of the ministries have made tangible progress in the quality of the services they render to the public by the introduction of e-government. The system was designed to move away from a heavily paper-based system to an electronic one to facilitate better communications between the government, businesses and individuals.
But it is not so everywhere. What happens at the Labor Office in Riyadh is a prime example of failing bureaucracy. Those seeking some service routinely queue up before Fajr prayers to command good spot closer to the clerk’s window. Their sufferings are compounded when after a long wait they reach the window only to be told by the clerk to get in line for the other window.
This leaves no choice to the service seeker but to start from zero at the tail of the new queue for hours and by the time their turn comes, the clerk shuts down either for prayers or some other unannounced reason. Thus the frustrated applicant has to repeat the same process the next day.
The Anti-Corruption Commission acting on rising complaints advised the Minister of Labor to reorganize the office procedures to ensure better public service. It also noted that there were no areas for parking and asked the ministry to construct a multi-storey car park to enable the public to park their cars instead of leaving them on sidewalks and buildings around the Labor office and causing traffic jams in the area.
It is such situations that have forced several business owners to migrate to the neighboring countries because of their well-organized government offices and dynamic work environment stemming from the strict application of the e-government system.
One of the best examples is the labor office of the Ministry of Labor in the United Arab Emirates. All individual transactions and those of companies having less than 50 workers are processed through the mail, while it is mandatory for companies with more than 50 workers to subscribe to the ministry’s electronic services, which is available around the clock throughout the week.
Could not our labor offices in the Kingdom benefit from such an exercise to alleviate the sufferings of the service seekers?