Electronic services provide a powerful impetus for economic development and facilitate interaction between citizens and the public administration. During the conference "Digital Governance to Accelerate Development" it was concluded that with the digitalisation of services, institutions will be able to increase the efficiency and reduce costs, while enabling businesses to operate more easily.
The participants also indicated that increasing the number of e-services does not necessarily lead to the improvement of their quality, but it is necessary to carefully listen to the views of direct users and to tailor the services to the needs of citizens and companies. The European Commission supports the reform of the public administration in Montenegro and other Western Balkan countries, primarily in the area of eGovernment, which provides faster and better quality of service delivery.
“We welcome the progress made in establishing a Unique Information System for Electronic Data Interchange, which ensures the communication between existing State e-registers and faster information sharing between citizens and officials. This has already enabled the creation of new services that will soon be operational, such as the electronic enrolment of children in primary schools and the electronic verification of the fulfilment of mandatory criteria in public procurement procedures,” explained Hermann Spitz, the Head of the Cooperation Sector at the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.
Spitz announced the introduction of new services, including: 1) registration of business entities, 2) insight to and payment of real estate taxes, 3) the birth and death registry and 4) the change of address.
The conference was organised as part of the project "Supporting the Establishment of a Transparent and Effective Public Administration at the Service of Citizens," which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration.
The conference presented the key findings of two researches in this area, which were conducted by the IPSOS Agency for the needs of the project on two important topics: the attitudes towards and the use of electronic services and the impact of information and communication technologies on the economy of Montenegro.
The data indicated significant differences in attitudes between citizens and the economy. It was encouraging that nine out of ten companies are informed about eGovernment services and the majority of those who use them are extremely satisfied (up to 87%). On the other hand, almost 80% of citizens were not informed about these electronic services, and six out of ten would prefer to go to a counter rather than use e-services, regardless of cost . In order to bridge this gap, a two-way communication between the public administration is needed, i.e. institutions as service providers and citizens and companies as beneficiaries.
In order to strengthen the cooperation of all actors involved in the field of digital transformation, the event brought together representatives of the public administration, the private sector, the civil society, and international organisations. The focus of the discussion was how digitalisation can make management more efficient and stimulate economic development.
The Minister of Public Administration, Suzana Pribilovic, pointed out that the research findings indicate that the public administration must make additional efforts for citizens to recognise electronic services as an effective and useful way of communicating with decision makers.
Highlighting the benefits of digitalisation, Daniela Gasparikova, the UNDP Permanent Representative to Montenegro, also highlighted the challenges that technological advancement brings. The UNDP, she said, is actively contributing to the digital transformation of the Montenegrin society, including co-operation with the EU and support for the fulfilment of specific goals of the Public Administration Reform Strategy related to the improvement and optimisation of e-services.