Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:01
The number of telephone calls the public had made to the 1919/Government Information Centre (GIC) in 2013 exceeded 1.6 million, says the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). Close to half of these, namely 749,016 were from the Western Province.
The organisations most inquired about were the Railway Department, Divisional Secretariats, Police Department, Motor Traffic Department, Immigration and Emigration Department, the Education Ministry and Education Department.
The number of calls from the public 1919 had received last year from the Northern and Eastern Provinces was 78,045.
In addition, the number of browsers of the Government Information Centre website www.gic.lk in 2013 was more than 710,000. This is double the corresponding figure for 2012.
By dialling 1919 using any phone one could have access to any service offered by the Government. This service noted for being given in a courteous manner is available in Sinhala Tamil and English from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all the days of the year. If anyone has a query about the services offered by any Government organisation, they could dial 1919 and get the required information.
The GIC offers not only contact information but also offers advice about how to get a job done. For example if you want to know how to get your national identity card for the first time or to replace a lost NIC, 1919 will advise you on how to obtain it. To give another example, if you want to know how to get a loan facility from a government bank, the 1919 team will advise you on how to proceed to obtain the loan.
They will also help you avoid tedious and circuitous routes and use easier ways to solve your problem whenever such shortcuts are available but perhaps not known to you. For example you may unknowingly ask 1919 for the telephone number of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) regional office relevant to your area to complain about a water leakage from a cracked pipe belonging to the NWSDB on the edge of the road in front of your house, but 1919 will be able help you avoid the more time-consuming route for solving the problem by advising you to call 1939, which is the instant service call number of the NWSDB. Another example of such instant service number is 1987 which is that of the Ceylon Electricity Board. These instant service numbers will make the complaint on your behalf to the relevant service provider and give you a reference number and contact details for ease in any further inquiry. A much used service through 1919 is the train transport time-table information service.
Government institutions also get the benefit out of this process, by getting fewer calls so that they could devote their time for other duties. This also enables people to visit government institutes after enquiring from 1919, so they are well prepared with the required documentation and they know whom to meet.
The GIC (1919) was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2006 as one of the many measures to make the dividends of ICT accrue to all in the best possible manner.