Vera Nikolić Dimić, AmCham Executive Director:

Efficient eGovernment Most Important For A Better Business Environment

The members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia – more than 200 U.S., international and local companies – recognise the establishing of effective e-governance as one of the most important steps for improving conditions for doing business

We are witnessing e-government often being referred to as key to progress, transparency and accelerating procedures. On the other hand, AmCham believes that all noted digitisation processes need to be accelerated and transferred from words to deeds. Serbia is late in these processes, by a decade or even two, so the state should speed up these processes as soon as possible, because, apart from easing doing business, they will have a far greater effect. We are about combatting corruption. A good example of a successful e-system is represented by electronic building permits, a system that functions perfectly and makes corruption practically impossible.

IT is the fastest growing sector of the economy in Serbia, with the programming industry alone recording growth of around 20 per cent annually, and estimates suggesting that this industry currently lacks between 15,000 and 20,000 experts. How satisfied are U.S. investors with Serbia’s IT experts?

– The IT industry is one of the areas in which new investments can be expected in the period ahead, as it is an industry of the future. There are a large number of U.S. companies operating on our market and employing top local personnel. Alongside Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, as leaders of the world’s IT industry, we also have American companies like Symphony Serbia that are expanding their operations unstoppably. The state’s job is to adapt the education system in the future to suit the needs of the market and thereby halt the brain drain from our country.

The backbone of the U.S. economy is constant innovation enabled by close collaboration between the academic sector, the start-up community and the economy

Which programmes does AmCham and its members use to support the IT sector, its promotion and education in this area?

– The backbone of the U.S. economy is constant innovation enabled by close collaboration between the academic sector, the startup community and the economy. The most exclusive educational institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, are increasingly focusing on this type of synergy that’s enabled by the use of innovative IT technologies in addressing diverse social issues. That is also a practise that AmCham Serbia advocates through the activities of the Platform for the Digital Economy, which includes strengthening the start-up community and promoting entrepreneurship in the ICT field through exchanges of experience with representatives of AmCham member companies, but also much more tangible cooperation with universities in Serbia. We realise this vision through concrete support to centres for the development of innovation and entrepreneurship: Startit Centre and ICT HUB, as well as the programme for empowering the inclusion and leadership of women in the IT industry.

How satisfied are U.S. companies with the advances made by Serbia on the introduction of efficient e-Government and what do they consider as the priorities in this area?

– The experiences brought by member companies to Serbia show that without an efficient state administration there is no stable and promising business environment. It is an encouraging fact that the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia coincide with our priorities, and that is a prerequisite for us to launch implementation. The establishment of the Office for IT and eGovernment and the agenda of director Mihailo Jovanović is encouraging. In the near future we expect accelerated work on e-document regulations, the enabling of e-archiving, use of e-signatures and the applying of e-inspector services. Such a journey will bring us closer to countries like Estonia, which has digitised virtually all systems. We don’t need to overanalyse and excessively research, we just need to adapt existing e-services to the needs of citizens and the economy.