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Serbia Has Positioned Itself As A Country Of Innovation

In the past three and a half years, we have established the necessary infrastructure and developed many electronic services, transforming the public administration into an efficient service for people and business. On this basis we have been able to defy pandemic conditions to create new platforms and electronic services at key moments practically overnight, to ensure the coordination of healthcare, education and other key systems

Mihailo Jovanović, Director of the Office for IT and eGovernment, received the NALED annual special award for exceptional contribution to the modernization of the public administration in Serbia, which has greatly improved the efficiency of procedures between government, businesses and the public.

The digital vaccination system has been recognized as an example of best practice in immunizing the population and has ranked our country among world leaders in the use of digital tools to respond to the current crisis.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Office for IT and eGovernment immediately established an electronic application service for PCR testing, and then for vaccination on the eGovernment Portal. How did you manage that?

For digitalization, it is important that over the past three and a half years we have established the necessary infrastructure and developed many electronic services, transforming the public administration into an efficient service for business and the public. Because of this, we have been able to create new platforms and electronic services at key moments practically overnight. These innovative solutions and electronic services have aimed to achieve optimal coordination of healthcare, education and other key systems under the pandemic, timely and accurate information for everyone and continuous provision of services to companies and the public. Serbia has in this way positioned itself as one of the five countries in the world with the largest number of innovations during the Covid-19 crisis.

We had to respond quickly and efficiently to the need to immunize the population, so from 11 January 2021, we enabled everyone to express interest in vaccination against Covid-19 by filling out a simple questionnaire on the eGovernment Portal.

You also hold NALED’s annual recognition for establishing electronic delivery of cadastral decisions through eSanduče. How does this service work and how far are we from getting other important documents in our digital mailboxes?

Delivery of cadastre decisions to electronic mailboxes means a big change for the approximately 500,000 people involved in real estate transactions every year who no longer have to go to a counter at the Geodetic Institute. The entire procedure, from submitting a registration request at the notary and electronic submission of a tax declaration, has now been completed with the electronic receipt of the cadastre decision, and with this success we can develop e-delivery of other services.

I see the special recognition as confirmation that these achievements have made a real impact on modernising the public administration in Serbia. With the programme for the development of eGovernment, the local tax administration portal, the delivery of decisions to eSanduče on the eGovernment portal, construction and commissioning of the state data centre in Kragujevac and enabling cashless payment at municipal counters, cities and institutions have enormously improved the efficiency of all the procedures that people and companies have with the state. The vaccination information system was especially emphasized, with the organization of the vaccination roll-out itself, which is recognized around the world as one of the best examples of good practice in response to the coronavirus crisis.

By the end of 2022 there will be no paper form of requests for permits, certificates, decisions or other documents for which there is an electronic version that can be submitted electronically

Electronic delivery is linked to another project on which your office cooperates with NALED and the EBRD, and that is the eCitizen project where you work on popularizing the use of electronic services on the eGovernment Portal throughout Serbia. Why is this important?

Together with NALED and with the support of the EBRD, we have trained more than 700 administrators to work on the portal through promoting the electronic delivery of documents to the mailbox on the eGovernment Portal. Our goal is to help our citizens, businesses and those who find it difficult to deal with the digital environment to overcome the first obstacle and join the group of over a million users of e-Government services who have already become eCitizens.

In the year of the pandemic, you managed to open the first state data centre in Kragujevac. What does this mean for our country and economy?

The government has designated the construction of the State Data Centre in Kragujevac as a project of special importance for Serbia. It is an infrastructure facility of regional importance, which holds data and equipment of the state and local government, and where there is also room for commercial users. Among the first are the American IBM and Chinese Huawei, but many Serbian companies and institutions have also signed commercial contracts.

The Kragujevac centre has a capacity of almost 1,100 rack cabinets and is five times larger than the State Data Centre in Belgrade. It has two buildings of about 14,000 square meters and meets the highest standards for this type of facility – a standard that prescribes general aspects of the facility and the infrastructure required to support the operation of telecommunications in data centres (SPRS EN 50600), one standard (TIER 4) that ensures availability and another (2N) that provides complete redundancy, a duplication of all processes.

What are the first recommendations of the NALED Grey Book that you see as candidates for a quick solution and what are your priorities on the way to further digitalization?

Many of the recommendations of the Grey Book contain solutions for the digitalization of administrative procedures, and we see them all as important. What will help us a lot in all of them is the ePaper project. Under this, a register of administrative procedures will be promoted on the eGovernment Portal by the middle of the year. The goal of the Portal is to establish a single point of information on the rights and obligations of businesses in relation to the state, easy navigation through procedures and improved legal security and certainty in the conduct of the public administration. The register envisages a list of all 2,600 procedures that businesses conduct with the state, with all information related to each procedure – from the responsible authority to the procedure, deadlines, application form, required documentation, all the way to electronic application and obtaining the necessary permits for the part of the procedure for which digitalization is complete.

By the end of 2021, one hundred new administrative procedures for business will be digitalized, in addition to all those already available on the web sites of state bodies – the Tax Administration, Customs Administration, Ministry of Finance, Geodetic institute, Business Register, Social Insurance Registry – and on the eGovernment Portal in a life event Starting a Business. Until the complete digitalization of all 2,600 procedures, we have a rather ambitious plan that envisages the digitalization of the first step – submitting applications electronically. So by the end of 2022 there will be no paper form of requests for permits, certificates, decisions or other documents for which there is an electronic version that can also be submitted electronically.

If you were to rank the importance of services launched in collaboration with your Office, NALED and donors, what would you highlight as the service that was most beneficial to business?

Cooperation with NALED has always been excellent. Their experience with local government and with companies helps us get a clearer picture of what we need to improve. They are a very important partner for us, they supported us right from the establishment of the Office for IT and eGovernment and have been a tireless driver of transformation and digitalization of the public administration, without which we would be far from any results. I expect even more intensive cooperation with NALED because we have large projects and successes ahead of us, the wheel of digitalization has started, now there is no stopping it.

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