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Sunday, October 2, 2022

The goal is to place Slovenia at the top of digital Europe

By Vida Kocjan

At the beginning of April, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia informed itself with an information of the establishment and appointment of the Strategic Council for Digitisation, which is a consultative body of Prime Minister Janez Janša.

It appointed dozens of top Slovenian experts and connoisseurs of the situation to the strategic council. They are led by Mark Boris Andrijanič, whose term is tied to the term of the Prime Minister. The Strategic Council must now, within five months, prepare a framework proposal for the necessary systemic changes to accelerate the digitalisation of the Slovenian economy, the public sector, and the state administration. At the end of last week, they met at the first session and discussed the goals, timeline, and organisation of work. They also already presented some substantive proposals. Members’ participation took place online and physically.

 They will work in six working groups

President Mark Boris Andrijanič said that they had set up six working groups: public administration and the digital society, healthcare, the digitalisation of education, the economy and the business environment, new technologies, and digital diplomacy.

Almost 40 debaters took part in the first session. Prime Minister Janez Janša said that the Council for Digitisation does not have representatives of government ministries, government services or public institutions, at least mostly not, because they want this body to prepare proposals without worrying about how this will then have to be done and implemented. Among other things, he suggested some goals to be pursued by the Strategic Council.

 By September 15th, a proposal to digitise the state

“By September 15th, we expect a proposal to digitise the country, so that you can say what needs to be done in individual areas, without going into problems, how much something will cost, how it will be done, who will do what. If you are going to give suggestions and information on this, no big deal, but that is not the intention, the intention is to tell how something should be achieved. Namely, our goal is for Slovenia to be among the first five countries on the digital index after 5 years,” said the Prime Minister. He then highlighted the goal of enabling the consistent implementation of the fundamental principle of the lean state. “In all administrative procedures, the state body should be the one that must obtain all the necessary data for the implementation of the procedure, which exist anywhere in the official databases, so that the citizen will not be the one who will have to edit the data. Of course, by entering and submitting an application, we give our consent for the state body to obtain this information,” Janša said. Also among the goals is to upgrade the physical digital infrastructure and to connect all business entities and households, all of which also require basic knowledge for the use of digital technologies, which should be included in school curricula. “Of course, this cannot be done overnight,” stressed Prime Minister Janez Janša.

 Simič expects good cooperation

Subsequently, the members provided a number of solutions and substantive suggestions. Ivan Simič, President of the Strategic Council for De-bureaucratisation, welcomed the establishment of the Strategic Council for Digitisation. He expects good cooperation between the two strategic councils. He believes that Slovenia can only achieve its goal through unity.

Mitja Štular is convinced that digitalisation begins with a quality broadband infrastructure that offers fast access and a sufficient density of communicating devices. He considers it important to establish partnerships. The future is in relation to business partners, with whom it will be possible to develop solutions that will provide effective solutions (bad practices: long-term care, telemedicine, hospital IT systems). “We need to focus on things that will add value. Too often we invent something that has already been invented and at the same time forget about the user. One such example is eGovernment. Lots of possible services, but low usage. The education system needs to be adapted to all this. It is important what attitude politics has towards this and how much it encourages us to do so,” Štular said. He is happy that this is encouraged this time.

Žiga Turk is convinced that the general improvement of the environment in Slovenia will be good for digital. “We cannot separate the digital strategy from the general improvement of all types of environments we have in Slovenia. Digital is not intended for itself, but increases the productivity of other industries.” Turk thus proposes the establishment of a council for digitisation in the field of construction. The positions of other members of the Strategic Council for De-bureaucratization were also very productive, and they all have in common that they want to put Slovenia on a different turn.

We lack specialised staff

Janša, Prime Minister: “Only 5 percent of administrative services are carried out electronically. We lack specialised staff. We have a big problem in the state administration, because due to salary grades and collective agreements, it is not possible to pay the most sought-after and high-quality staff in a quality manner.”

 Positive energy and synergy

At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister estimated that the meeting would pay off. “The positive energy and synergy from today’s meeting are palpable and I hope it has also been transferred through digital platforms. Many suggestions can already be used and there is no need to wait for the final plan, but the key is support and trying to explain to people that it is in our common interest to find the right answer to the question of who will do it, and that we are able to reward it. We live in a society where we are part of a market economy and fair work for fair pay has been one of the generators of progress for thousands of years. If we do not recognise this, we are dragging ourselves back,” said Prime Minister Janša, thanking everyone again for their contribution and for moving Slovenia to the top of digital Europe.

Almost 40 debaters took part in the 1st session

In addition to Prime Minister Janša and Council President Marko Boris Andrijanič, almost 40 speakers took part in the 1st session of the Strategic Council: Ivan Simič, Mitja Štular, Ajša Vodnik, Žiga Turk, Igor Zorko, Marko Grobelnik, Medeja Lončar, Jure Knez, Gregor Macedoni, Gregor Pipan, Sonja Šmuc, Daniel Avdagič, Tomaž Gornik, Miha Lavtar, Tine Türk, Jure Leskovec, Darja Grošelj, Andraž Kastelic, Nejc Novak, Marko Pavlišič, Aleš Špetič, Andraž Tori, Irena Nančovska Šerbec, Goran Živec, Andrej Mertelj, Jure Mikuž, Barbara Domicelj, Matej Potokar, Aleš Groznik, Marko Bajec, Julij Božič, Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Mark Pleško, Matej Tomažin, Žiga Vavpotič, and Andrej Brodnik.

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