Kirk Henry

IMPROVED ACCESS: Kirk Henry, CEO, iGovTT.

THE National Information and Communication Technology Company Ltd (iGovTT) has been praised for the role it has played in boosting T&T’s IT environment amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials of iGovTT appeared before a Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee yesterday for an enquiry into the company’s audited financial statements.

Committee member Fitzgerald Hinds said there had been no notable issues raised about the financial statements of the company and noted that independent auditors had given the company a “clean bill of health”.

Hinds said this was a good sign.

“It’s a very good thing. I think the people of Trinidad and Tobago ought to recognise that what we have in front of us is a good thing and I see the need for us to protect it,” he said.

Hinds praised the company for doing a good job in modernising various Government platforms and providing online solutions throughout the pandemic.

Kirk Henry, iGovTT CEO, said the company directly supported various ministries in implementing online solutions to issues that arose because of the pandemic.

The company was instrumental in setting up platforms to facilitate online learning as schools have been closed for the past year.

“We were behind the scenes in terms of education. We supported the work done with respect to enabling the online learning to happen. IGovTT, almost from the get-go, was involved in the infrastructure elements in terms of supporting the Ministry of Education to deliver continued learning in an online fashion. Additionally, we are involved in the procurement and procurement activity associated with the devices...laptops and tablets...,” he said.

Reduced Covid risk

Henry said the company is continuing to work on providing Wi-Fi access for pupils who do not currently have access to the Internet to participate in online learning.

“In terms of Internet capability, we are looking currently at using our Internet pipe to distribute Internet in secondary schools and to make it available for people in the community...not just the students to have access and to bridge that digital divide,” he said.

IGovTT also assisted the Ministry of National Security in setting up the online application system for travel exemptions.

Henry said other initiatives were also undertaken, including a platform where citizens could apply for jobs online and another platform for online birth certificate applications.

“At the start of the pandemic, iGovTT was involved in the roll-out of the online payment facility that allowed citizens to go online for the first time and pay for a birth certificate. So what that allowed for was that citizens did not have to leave their homes to face the potential of the pandemic,” he said.

“We have instances where citizens as far as Israel would have made requests for birth certificates completely online and had it delivered via TTPost to them,” he added.

He said all these systems helped to prevent people from having to leave their homes to access services, thereby reducing the risk of exposure to Covid-19.

Justifiably proud

Hinds said the company has aided in making the quality of life of citizens better as well as improving the ease of doing business.

“I am really genuinely proud of iGovTT as a citizen, as a Member of Parliament and I can be justifiably proud...” Hinds stated.

IGovTT chairman Sean Rocke said, however, it has been a challenge for the company to recruit and retain the necessary staff.

Henry, too, noted that the company has been experiencing a loss of staff as talented recruits are often snatched up by better-paying competitors in the private sector.

He said the company needs to find ways to make itself more attractive to young, talented IT professionals.

“We need to make it attractive because, in this current climate, IT and IT professionals and tech talent is at a premium. So we are competing with other sectors and we have to find ways not just simply through compensation packages, etc, but to encourage the talent that we have because we have suffered a bit of poaching.

“Our line ministry is making a concerted effort to work on culture and to support our efforts to bring the compensation packages in line with what happens in the private sector. We have lost a lot of talent to consulting firms,” he said.

Hinds said the Government must do what it takes to ensure the company continues to be successful as IT solutions are necessary now more than ever.

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