By Peter Stevenson
FROM March any member of the public wishing to pay for a government service online via JCC smart will be charged 50 cents for each transaction following a decision made by the Treasury.
The new charge will come into effect earlier for those wishing to renew their road tax via the online pay-site, with the 50 cent charge coming into effect from January 7 when road tax renewals officially begin.
The Treasury sent out a circular on December 12 of last year to all government departments that operate payment methods via JCC smart that those wishing to pay for services would be charged a nominal fee.
The auditor-general’s report from 2012 said paying road tax fees via the internet has greatly facilitated the Road Transport Department’s operations but it has seen the government charged a fee by banks, which comes to roughly €1 million per year. The auditor-general then recommended that the department in consultation with the communications ministry and finance ministry study ways to renegotiate the agreement they have with JCC to reduce the costs incurred by the online processing operations of the department.
An official at the RTD told the Cyprus Mail that he and his colleagues were in a state of shock when they were informed of this new charge.
“Especially now that people are trying to be more careful with money, charging them any amount of money will just lead to many of them going directly to the RTD offices to avoid incurring further costs which will in turn cause huge queues and more hassle for everyone involved,” he said.
In October of last year Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou announced that the public could find out if they have any outstanding warrants or fines and be able to pay them off once the service was eventually upgraded.
“This important initiative combines a new police philosophy which aims to serve the public and also the wider government policy of introducing online services as a key component of the new state model,” Nicolaou said at the time.
Services which can be paid for online via JCC smart are road tax renewal, hunting licence renewal, income tax, annual company fees and water and electricity bills.
The managing director of JCC was unavailable for comment while the Treasury said they did not wish to comment at this time.