Thursday, April 18, 2024

More cohesive

Ricardo David Lopes, Prémio

The relationship of the state with citizens in general, and with investors in particular, should above all be simple, transparent and predictable. Excessive bureaucracy makes such interactions more complex, hindering the lives of citizens and tending to discourage potential investors.

Excessive bureaucracy and complex processes also frequently lead to opportunities for the occurrence of acts of corruption.

Aware of this, many governments around the world are, at different stages and speeds, putting into practice programs to streamline bureaucratic procedures in relation to people and companies on the one hand and the states themselves on the other.

Angola is no exception and has advanced with the implementation of many measures and processes to cut bureaucracy, whether impacting directly on the lives of citizens or interlinked with companies and their investments.

A good recent example is SIMPLIFICA 1.0, a program presented in June by the Angolan government designed to simplify and streamline public services while also functioning, as Minister Adão de Almeida explained at the time, as “an instrument in the service of combating corruption” in the public administration.

The digitalisation of public services is one of the facets of removing bureaucracy planned for by SIMPLIFICA 1.0, also within the scope of reducing corruption and making processes faster, more reliable and less burdensome.

“Our collective strategic objective involves diversifying the economy and encouraging private national and international investment but which shall be seriously compromised if we are not able to provide public services,” assumed the Minister of State and head of the Civil Household of the Angolan President of the Republic.

And with every reason. SIMPLIFICA 1.0 today makes more sense than ever before. Angolans deserve a state that facilitates their lives and creates better conditions for attracting and maintaining investment to create the employment that the country needs so much.

The program was designed after sounding out civil society which is, after all, its main target through means of a field survey that reported that identity cards and construction licences represent “the most difficult documents to apply for” and health and education services as those “which most need improving”.

And there already is news of progress. Since its presentation, SIMPLIFICA 1.0, which aims to simplify over 30 administrative procedures, has already resulted in the implementation of long expected measures.

One of the most relevant is undoubtedly the scope to issue identity cards at birth and without the need to present the birth certificate.

In a country with one of the highest birth rates on the African continent and where there remain serious shortcomings in terms of access to public services, this is one of the most welcome and structuring measures in this program.

Last year in Angola, for various reasons, there were around 12 million people without an identity card which then, in effect, deprives them of the full rights of citizenship.

A cohesive country, as the Portuguese Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, told this edition of PRÉMIO requires the full exercise of citizenship – that everybody may have access to the essential public service irrespective of whether living in a major city or a distant rural village.

Angola, with these measures, is heading in this direction even while nothing that is important may be done in an instant.

Heading in the same direction is the work of the Angolan Minister of State for Social Action, Carolina Cerqueira, the first Angolan to present a voluntary government report on the progress towards the sustainable development goals to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

To Prémio, the minister explained just how Angola is working to improve the fields of health, education, employment, social protection, justice and economic growth, among other aspects.

This all reflects around promoting territorial cohesion, a task far more complex than it might at first sight appear due not only to being interdisciplinary and multifaceted but also involving so many different actors and dimensions.

Thus, it is important to ensure the territory has a seat in the Council of Ministers, as Ana Abrunhosa said. In Angola, in one way or another, this process is already underway: it can only bring about good results. 

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