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Electronic ID move seeks to cut red tape

At least 80% of government-issued citizen identity papers in Thailand will go electronic this year, says the Electronic Government Agency (EGA).

The goal comes after the government imposed a measure stipulating that the use of state certificate copies is no longer required for accessing public services.

The measure is a key step to simplify bureaucratic systems and enhance efficiency, accountability, continuity and transparency.

"We aim to lift Thailand's ranking on the ease of doing business index to the world's top 46 out of 190 countries in 2017," said EGA president Sak Segkhoonthod.

On April 4, the government used authority granted under Section 44 of the interim charter to amend the Licensing Facilitation Act -- which oversees everything from granting marriage licences to approving multibillion-dollar investment projects -- to no longer require a state certificate copy.

The amendment eases the process for businesses and individuals to obtain official licences and approvals from government agencies. To that end, it promotes two overarching principles being pushed by the government: greater transparency and less administrative discretion.

The special order is expected to accelerate the adoption of e-government across state agencies nationwide, which in turn can help reduce physical identity documents and provide citizens and businesses with more convenient access to government services.

Mr Sak said the efficiency and overall quality of government services remain low because state agencies are not providing services through a fully digital platform and instead rely heavily on paper records.

The Interior Ministry is investing 100 million baht to set up a data centre to connect data sources across state agencies. The budget also includes procurement of 200,000 smart card readers for 80 state agencies to improve accuracy and accountability in verification of e-ID.

Mr Sak said the EGA will embrace fully electronic data processing systems in June to enhance e-government services, starting with the 30 most-used services at six state agencies in a pilot project.

The Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries require more documents than others to show proof of citizen identity, he said.