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Prime Minster's Statement at Launching of the New Website of the Government of Saint Lucia - May 3, 2001

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Remarks by

Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony,

Prime Minister

and

Minister for Information and Broadcasting

at the Official Launching

of the

New and Improved Website

for the

Government of Saint Lucia,

at the

NIS Conference Centre,

Thursday, May 3rd 2001

Salutations

Introduction:

This small ceremony marks an important milestone in the life of Government Information Service, the Ministry of Information and the Government of Saint Lucia. This official launching of a new and improved website for the Government of Saint Lucia signifies our continued commitment to providing the people of Saint Lucia as many opportunities as possible to understand the workings of government and to participate in governance.

In this process the dissemination of accurate information is key to ensure that there is necessary public support for government policies, programmes, services and activities, thereby creating the environment for them to succeed.

Background:

A website for the Government of Saint Lucia is not new. Indeed, as early as the latter stages of 1997, the GIS with the help of Mr. Timothy James, who was at the time the National Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, established a website for the Government of Saint Lucia. At that time, the GISí website was a subset of that site and the two sites were updated separately.

Back then, as a new government we recognised the link between information and governance. We recognised too that government had for too long been too far removed from the people of Saint Lucia. We understood that if St. Lucians at home and abroad were to be kept informed on the workings of the government they had elected, we had to make use of all available avenues for reaching out to them. The Internet was an obvious choice and was one avenue that had not been used before.

The advantages were clear. The Internet had a reach that no other medium provided; the information was available to persons when they wanted it, and they were able to provide feedback almost instantaneously via e-mail if they wanted to.

Much has changed since we first established a Government of Saint Lucia website. The offerings increased steadily as more government departments either developed their own sites or requested the assistance of the GIS in establishing a presence on the World Wide Web.

Additionally, more and more persons were requesting more and more information. But as the demand grew we recognized that we needed to make some adjustments in the type of information that was available and the way the information was processed and presented to improve the efficiency in maintaining the websites.

During the year 2000, the decision was taken to remodel the websites and to facilitate this the Government of Saint Lucia site was shut down and essentially became a web page with a series of links to the websites of other government departments. In the meantime, the GISí site was maintained and by and large provided daily updates on the main happenings in government for the day.

In the past two years we have seen steady increase in the number of visitors to the GIS site, and some offerings have been particularly popular. For example, when the GIS posted this yearís Budget Address on its site, (and I might add, immediately upon the completion of the presentation at the House of Assembly at 9:45 that night) the site registered just under 1200 hits in the 24-hour period following.

 

Improvements to the Website:

In the new configuration, as you would have seen during the presentation by the GISí Webmaster, the websites of the Government of Saint Lucia and the GIS have been merged to make for greater efficiency in processing the updates. The home page of that new Government of Saint Lucia website will now provide the daily updates on whatís happening in government together with all the other interesting features which you would have seen.

In the development of the site, the GIS has been guided by the needs of its clients, based on requests, inquiries and suggestions received over the past year. The development of the Frequently Asked Questions section is just one example of how the GIS has responded.

The new website has taken into consideration the needs of the various publics that the department has to serve. The About Saint Lucia section we expect to be a very useful resource for primary school students who usually are required to conduct research on national signs and symbols and the history of the island. The many university students furthering their studies away from our shores will be very pleased to have such a resource at their fingertips, as many have suffered from a scarcity of adequate relevant and accurate information on St. Lucia for their various projects.

For persons with an interest in government and governance, the meticulously presented Saint Lucia Constitution and the breakdown of the government structure by ministry and departments will make useful browsing.

In short, the new website will provide more comprehensive coverage of government and an improved interface for communicating directly with the various departments.

Conclusion:

In launching this redeveloped website, our aim is simple Ė to be your first resource to find any information on the Government of Saint Lucia on the Internet. Our friendly interface will help you locate and access government information by keyword, phrase or link. Itís launching today is another step in the fulfillment of our overall objective of bringing government closer to the people and involving the people of Saint Lucia in governance.

Recent history in St. Lucia has taught us that in spite of numerous efforts on the part of this government to facilitate the free flow of timely and accurate information about governmentís achievements we cannot rely on anyone else to do this for us. This redeveloped website, to be found at http://stlucia.gov.lc  may be seen in this context.

In the next few weeks, I expect to be able to invite to another important milestone along that route when the GIS will officially launch regularly scheduled television programming on Cablevision Channel 2.

It now gives me great pleasure to officially launch this new website for the Government of Saint Lucia, which I am told will be done at the touch of a button, and I wish you all happy browsing.

Thank you.

 

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