In these fast times of ours, we can certainly consider five years ago as being history. And it was then that the Foreign Investors Council held its first ”Dialogue for Change” event, prompting the government to consider how to drive digitalisation and inspire change by sharing the knowledge and innovation of its members. Today, more than ever, it seems that digitalisation is fundamental to increasing the competitiveness of Serbia and its economy
It seems obvious today to say that “the times of paper, stamps and fax machines are long gone”. Developed countries and their economies, as well as those in transition, are finding ways to improve both their efficiency and transparency by embedding digitalisation in their operations and expanding telecommunications infrastructure. Yet, during the times when the Foreign Investors Council first elaborated on this topic publicly, there was probably hardly anybody who expected the Serbian Government to prove so successful in setting the framework for businesses, introducing E/M-Government in order to build its own efficiency and provide a better service to the private sector and citizens.
Over the noted period, the FIC has continuously helped the Government deal with challenges linked to much-needed reforms, whether related to the sharing of new knowledge, building a regulatory framework or overcoming practical obstacles to boosting digitalisation and excelling telecommunications. It would be superfluous to say that the Western Balkan region was, and is still, lagging behind the EU in terms of digital transformation.
Despite the considerable progress achieved, there are many fields where digitalisation processes remain underutilised or are just starting to take root, such as in the application for electronic auctions in enforcement procedures, or the use of software for judicial proceedings. The FIC has provided its own contribution to many of these initiatives
Nevertheless, in the meantime, considerable progress has been achieved in various related areas, such as the advanced development of infrastructure to enable high-quality internet access, the introduction of a regulatory framework that’s instrumental in enabling the introduction of regulations governing e-documents and e-commerce, and the development of human capital. All these steps developed as a consequence of the premise that Serbia and the other countries of the region would use digitalisation as an ace up the sleeve to catch up with the EU. It is undeniable that digitalisation has proven instrumental in reducing barriers to business operations, the functioning of the financial sector and tax administration, education and healthcare during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The FIC has been at the forefront of these changes, making digitalisation one of the main focuses of its cooperation with the Government of Serbia and ensuring that the topic has remained relevant even during these times of the pandemic.
Among the FIC committees’ many initiatives are those related to insurance policy, taxation e-services, customs declarations, digitalisation and the simplifying of strictly formal communication between employers and employees, the improvement of court procedures and advancements in the healthcare sector.