- November 22, 2017
- Posted by: Natoyah Fields-Harewood
- Category: ministry of public telecommunications, News
Team Innovative Systems (INNOSYS) met the MOPT’s almost daunting challenge at the second annual Hackathon in November, and walked away with $300,000 in prize money. They won admirably from a field of 8 after enduring 48 grueling hours to create the best user-friendly application for Rates & Taxes Management and Reporting for the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) across the nation.
Now the youngsters, Deenauth Mohabeer, Munifa Erskine, Julius Simon and Sonny Kothapally will take the opportunity the Ministry offers to refine the winning App working with our own app developers, bringing it to the point where it can be implemented by the NDC’s through the Ministry of Communities.
This was the same team (with one additional female coder) that won the MoPT’s CodeSprint 2017 in July. They had designed a practical Agricultural Commodities Trade Exchange that will be put to use by the Agriculture Ministry. Essentially the new App will bring producers, sellers and buyers of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and other indigenous Guyanese agro-processed foods like cassava bread and cassareep into a single online marketplace.
Meanwhile, working with the Hackathon 2017 theme “Hack to the Future” the 8 participating teams designed some interesting variations, each having to employ their skills in software development, computer science, graphic design and research to link the front end (use) with the back end (administration). They had to:-
- Build a user-friendly tax collection app that could be both web- and mobile-compatible
- Place property owners into specific categories
- Facilitate payments online or via cash centers
- Build in a method to evaluate each resident’s status
- Send reminders and notices
- Generate tax payment/arrears reports
- Send and receive notifications and statistical measurements
Placing second for the prize of $200,000 was Team myMarket comprising Kenneth and Sheridan Parris and Jamal Gilbert. In 3rd place was the very youthful Team Intellect Storm represented by Amrita Ramnauth, Nicholas Seetaram, Davendra Naraine, and Satesh Persaud. They walked away with $150,000.
Leader of the winning team, Julius Simon said, “Our app is called Ratesandtaxes.gy but it is a temporary title, and I think we are contributing to bettering this country. This will really help to get the NDCs online and give regular people access to their tax information. Mohabeer said, “I think we have a unique style of development. We tried to make it as nice as possible, but business-like to strike a balance”.
Lance Hinds, the Hackathon’s Organizer in Chief, judge and ICT Advisor to Minister Hughes stated at the end of the competition that “the judges stuck slavishly to the criteria. They adjudicated on user-friendliness, innovativeness and efficiency”.
He added, “The Hackathon is a facilitator, identifier and developer of local ICT talent”, adding that the Ministry envisions in the foreseeable future secondary schools and the University, NGO’s and business owners hosting their own Hackathons to harness local talent, and to develop working solutions for national, business and community-specific socio-economic problems.
THE HACKATHON CHALLENGE
Rates & Taxes Management and Reporting for the NDCs
An innovative solution to make it easier for taxpayers to make payments and manage their property details
Web Based Application + Mobile Compatibility
The National Democratic Council (NDC) is responsible for levying and collecting Rates and Taxes from a variety of property owners within its districts. There are hundreds of delinquent companies and individuals that owe outstanding taxes to the NDCs.
The laws demand that every property owner should register the particulars of the property and details of ownership, and be required to make periodic payments of a prescribed amount. Some of the factors that contribute to delinquency are:
– Taxpayer is not registered
– 1 or more properties are not registered
– Incorrectly classified properties
– Details of the properties are not updated/maintained
– The value of the property is provided by a third-party
– The process is heavily paper-based
- The amount of taxes to be paid is determined by calculating a percentage of the assessed value of the property. The percentage used is based on its classification (see below).
- Property Classification:
- Institutional (exempt from tax payment)
- Commercial & Residential
- Land Only
- The institutions/persons exempt from tax:
- Public Hospital
- Persons over the age of sixty (60), via request from Ministry of Local Government
- Discounts/Waivers are granted per case which require approval from upper management.
- Interest is calculated on tax payments in arrears. Discounts/Waivers can apply to the interest due.
- While the amount due by an applicable taxpayer is calculated on a yearly basis, taxpayer can agree to pay off the sum at the following frequencies:
- A single lump sum Annual payment
- Four Quarterly payments
The Solution Required
It is a well-established fact that stimulating taxpayers and actively engaging them drastically improve compliance. As such, you are required to build an engaging web or mobile application which will encourage property owners to quickly manage the details of their properties and personal information, access demand letters and other notifications that may originate from M&CC, manage payments and raise complaints.
- The NDC’s recording of all owners and properties
- Process Payments (at NDC and/or online), Billing/Payment processing
- Addresses must be geo-referenced
- Show payment history of owners
- Sends out Notifications/Reminders
- Incident Reporting (Animal deaths, etc., Garbage not picked up)
- Generate Demand Notice for non-payment
- Module to encourage performance (score) for NDC and citizens
- Tax Income Reports (internal reporting)
- Compliance Measurement (How well citizens are complying with payments)
- Public Data on Payment
- Broadcast general notifications/alerts
- Application of discounts