We see regulatory barriers that are hindering the construction of digital (telecommunications) infrastructure as a major obstacle to the further digitalisation of society. Specifically, it is necessary to revise regulations in the domain of environmental protection governing the installation of base stations in mobile networks
Digitalisation imposed itself as the most important topic for the business community during the pandemic, when doing business electronically became the only way to conduct traditional transactions. However, digital transformation is a much more important process that the efficiency and capacity of not only the economy depends on, but also that of the state administration. Its prerequisites include digital (telecommunications) infrastructure, adequate regulations and e-government. The level of development of these three pillars determines the degree of digitalisation of a given society.
In this sense, we see that the development of e-government has continued even after the abating of the pandemic, and has done so in a direction that we commended in one of the previous editions of the White Book – namely, that eGovernment doesn’t need to replicate classic procedures available at counters, but rather should provide innovative solutions to social challenges, as was the case with applications for vaccination. The FIC thus praises the latest projects of the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications and the Office for IT and eGovernment: enabling digital identities for our citizens abroad via Serbia’s diplomatic missions; establishing of the “Frilenseri” [Freelancers], portal enabling simplified tax declarations; and launching the “Čuvam te” [I Keep You Safe] service aimed at preventing and protecting against peer-to-peer violence.
Excessively high standards could slow the digitalisation process if doing business electronically becomes more expensive than doing business in the traditional way
On the topic of regulations, the general regulations governing electronic operations are good and harmonised with EU regulations, and the new Law on Electronic Communications was adopted recently, representing a further stride forward in that direction. As for the electronic signature, we don’t see any regulatory barriers whatsoever when it comes to internal transactions between the state, businesses and citizens, while the recent integrating of the APR [Business Registers Agency] and eGovernment is the right step towards broader adoption of electronic transactions and electronic identity.
When it comes to foreigners, it is necessary to consider amending regulations with the aim of recognising certificates for electronic signatures issued in the EU, with which the concluding of contracts would be made significantly easier for many foreign investors whose legal representatives are foreign citizens. However, alongside regulations governing e-documents and e-business, attention should also be paid to special regulations like those governing archiving, because excessively high standards could slow the digitalisation process if doing business electronically becomes more expensive than doing business in the traditional way.
Finally, we see major regulatory barriers hindering the construction of digital (telecommunications) infrastructure as the biggest obstacle to the further digitalisation of society. Outdated regulations in the domain of environmental protection, unjustified restrictions in urban plans and inconsistencies in the approaches of local governments remain an enduring problem to the further development of new generation mobile networks. Capacities have almost been reached, while on the other hand there are no conditions to either expand existing networks or construct new ones, including 5G networks.
That’s why the Foreign Investors Council, in collaboration with the University of Belgrade School of Electrical Engineering, has launched a joint project that aims to utilise scientifically established facts and best international practices to offer solutions to the aforementioned problems.