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24 Jan 2017

Call for better using available infrastructure to develop digital government in Belarus

MINSK, 24 January (BelTA) – It is necessary to better use the available infrastructure in order to develop digital government in Belarus. Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov made the statement during the session of the Council of Ministers’ Presidium held on 24 January to discuss the development of digital economy and information society in Belarus, BelTA has learned.

Andrei Kobyakov said: “Intermediate results of our work to introduce information technologies have been appreciated by the international community rather well. Belarus ranks 31st out of 175 countries in the development of information and communication technologies according to the International Telecommunication Union. Belarus has managed to improve its position by five points within one year. It is also worth noting that Belarus is the CIS leader in this regard.”

However, according to the UN digital government readiness index Belarus is ranked 49th out of 193 countries and has managed to improve its standing by six positions within two years. Belarus is also behind Russia and Kazakhstan in this regard. “It means that the available infrastructure is poorly used. In other words, the procedures used to operate digital government are far from the ideal. For instance, we could use more digital documents. The amount of digital correspondence falls below 50% of the total in most of government agencies,” noted the Belarusian head of government.

Digital services and digital identification are still perceived as near-future plans. No breakthrough shifts and results have been registered for now,” he stated.

During the session of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers in November 2015 instructions were given to develop a draft presidential decree to make legally binding the documents produced by providing digital services. “However, no results have been achieved yet. I believe the performance of the Information Technologies and Communications Ministry and the Justice Ministry is dissatisfactory in this regard. If you don’t need the document to build a digital government architecture, let’s drop the subject,” noted Andrei Kobyakov.

Participants of the session also discussed how well the money allocated for introducing digital technologies is spent. A dedicated non-budgetary fund has been established for this purpose, however, the appropriations have not been fully spent for two years in a row. In 2015 less than 50% of the appropriated money was spent. The figure registered in 2016 reached 85%. “Such results are inadmissible. If the Information Technologies and Communications Ministry and other beneficiaries of the fund continue failing to spend the money in full, I will be forced to back the proposals in favor of transferring the leftovers to the central state budget at the end of the year,” said the Prime Minister.

In his opinion, the government program, which was adopted in March 2016 to guide the development of digital economy and information society till 2020, should allow Belarus to become one of the CIS leaders and get closer to the world leaders in this field.

In turn, Belarusian Information Technologies and Communications Minister Sergei Popkov mentioned several priorities in fulfilling the government program. He noted it is important to create a nationwide integrated service and payment system, a national system for paperless trade, and a national web portal for open data. It is also necessary to build a national segment of the united information space of the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS in the future.

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