Published in El Pais, 1 May 2021.
Many governments in the world and their public institutions have adopted to be transparent with different procedures. This has increased the productivity of the nation. Much of this effort relies on the agreement to be more transparent and reduce corruption. But “Productivity, transparency, and effective accountability are intrinsically connected (…) Empirical evidence has shown that a lack of transparency and integrity can affect a country’s productivity and economic growth” (World Economic Forum) . So beyond just corruption there is also the loss of time doing things. Many governments have everything online or called e-government. This transparency of procedures has improved the nation’s productivity and reduced stress and unnecessary turns. Everything is transparent and equally accessible to everyone.
In many countries, buying a property takes about two ± hours spread over a month. A few minutes to indicate that you want to buy. At that time, the notary asks you to transfer the money to an escrow account (takes minutes) and checks if the house documents are in order. Many of the documents are digital, and government institutions can be accessed online and viewed there (plans, taxes, identity documents). He prepares the purchase-sale document and summons the interested parties to sign the document and explain what the purchase of that good implies (45 ± minutes). You do not see any of these documents again until a month later to receive them in your mail or at your notary’s office. Everything is done by the notary from his computer. It does not require fighting or bribing officials. How much is saved in working hours and how it helps everyone’s productivity!
In Bolivia, a person who wants to buy a house or lot for his company must carries out the whole procedure himself only to discover that it is wrong because the public institutions changed some term and the entire document must be annulled or requires an addendum. For example, “cadaster decided change from decimals to fractions ”. As if mathematics were not equivalent or universal, the cadaster decides to usurp the functions of mathematicians to indicate that they are NOT equivalent and that the entire document must be redone, which, to make it worse, passed already many other desks that also had their observations on the grammar and mathematics. Why not use e-government to make purchase and sale formats available? How many hours would you save from people, both citizens and officials of the mayor’s office or other public institutions. Everyone loses because even the officials who review the over-standardized documents discover words that could annul the document. But is it their job to be proofreaders? Or is to ensure that a transaction is carried out transparently, for example, that there is no identity theft, that government properties (green areas, forests) are not sold or that cultivated areas are not sold for housing. But none of these important aspects happen because the thousands of civil servants are busy inventing mathematical or grammatical rules, or giving work to their color copiers or legal-size papers and not letter, which little or nothing help the true objectives of their position as a public official. What they do achieve is reducing the nation’s productivity by losing effective working hours for both the population and officials. Hours that the people pay with their taxes and that should be better invested in providing better services to citizens.