About BGN 2 Billion have been Spent on the Absent Bulgarian E-government for 15 years

Politics » DOMESTIC | December 5, 2017, Tuesday // 09:39
Bulgaria: About BGN 2 Billion have been Spent on the Absent Bulgarian E-government for 15 years Pixabay.com

Since 2002, the Bulgarian state has spent about BGN 2 billion on the implementation of e-government, which is still not working optimally and a minority of citizens can use its services. For the same period, Estonia spent funds at the equivalent of BGN 50 million for e-government implementation, which works successfully, and the country is the number one in Europe in implementing information and communication technologies, according to different charts. This shows the comparative analysis of the data made by the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) dedicated to the development of e-government in both countries.

Bulgaria and Estonia start developing e-government roughly at the same time. The Baltic state began e-government building in 2001, and Bulgaria adopted an e-government strategy a year later. Also in the same year 2001, the Estonian national identity card with embedded electronic identification was presented. The card gives the citizen access to all electronic services, including those of banks and utilities. With their personal cards Estonians can even pay tickets for parking or for public transport.

In Bulgaria, all of these are still just dreams and chaotic plans, despite the 40 times more money spent on e-government. In Boyko Borisov's first cabinet, e-government is among the top three priorities. In 2011, a decision was taken to implement the Estonian e-government model. For a faster implementation, an Electronic Governance Council, chaired by Prime Minister Borisov, was established. He is urged to sack every minister who is delaying the introduction of e-government - nothing like that happens.

E-government in Bulgaria

Only one fifth (19%) of administrations provide e-services by the end of 2016, and only 12% of administrations maintain specialized eServices registers. The administration offers a total of 2900 electronic services - 87% of them are "primary" and only 13% are "complex". "Primary" services are those where the administration that offers them figuratively does not communicate electronically with another administration. For "complex" services, this is not the case, and the citizen does not have to move from a counter to a counter, and the inquiries are made electronically between different administrations in order to perform the service.

It is no coincidence that every third administrative register in our country (27%) is supported only on paper. The lack of all information in the registers uploaded electronically is an obstacle to the provision of e-services. For example, only those born after 1984 can get marriage records online. The number of printers in public administration is growing almost three times more than the number of servers. Three percent of the administrative structures DO NOT accept electronically signed documents. Almost all applications (98%) for e-services are available to 5 administrations - the Registry Agency, the Agency for Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre, the National Revenue Agency, the General Labor Inspectorate and the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training. One third of Bulgarians (34%) do not use computers, but a little more (40%) do not use the Internet. By comparison, only 8 per cent of Estonians do not use a computer and 13 percent do not join the Internet.

Only every fifth Bulgarian (19%) has communicated online with the administration in the last 12 months. In Estonia, this is over three-quarters of the country's population (77%). A survey this year showed that the Bulgarian administration collects 5985 kinds of documents or certificates from the citizens in order to provide their services. On average Bulgarians needed 453 hours a year to prepare and pay taxes, which is 9 times more than in Estonia. To start a business in Bulgaria it takes 23 days, and for inclusion in the electricity distribution network - 262 days, which is three times more than in Estonia. Bulgarian managers spend 16% of their time on coping with bureaucratic provisions, which is 2.4 times more than in Estonia. The procedures for building a warehouse in Bulgaria are almost twice as high as those in Estonia.

To issue IDs from abroad the wait is 3 months. In the summer Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva informed that the electronic service for Bulgarians abroad, which cost the state BGN 500,000 lev was used only by two people in the 18 months since its introduction, perhaps because of the requirement for e-signature issued in Bulgaria .

The good news for Bulgaria

According to the Bulgarian Industrial Association, the good news for Bulgaria is that the State Agency for Electronic Governance has launched the electronic delivery system at the end of November. Thus, every Bulgarian can now make a mailbox on a state server and through it receive documents and services electronically. On this site, administrations have to create profiles of their e-services, and citizens will be able to make a box for electronic document delivery. To do this, however, they must have either an electronic signature, or personal identification number from the NSSI. 

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Tags: e-government, Bulgaria, Estonia, analysis
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