On 24 February 2021, the ACTAC team together with representatives of the Metamorphosis Foundation, civil society organizations and representatives of the municipalities of Prilep and Dolneni realized an online networking workshop.
The goals of the event are to encourage and ensure cooperation, sharing knowledge, experiences and building strategic partnerships to improve e-services.
The workshop is part of the project “E-service as self-service” implemented by ACTAC within the project funded by the European Union “Increasing civic engagement in the digital agenda – ICEDA”, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation and partners.
The representative of the Metamorphosis Foundation, Mila Josifovska Danilovska, presented the ICEDA project and the importance of the Digital Agenda in our region.
Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans:
The Digital Agenda is an initiative developed by the European Union, which has also been expanded and adopted for 6 countries in the Western Balkans. It aims to ensure that citizens in the region make full use of the benefits of digital transformation. Commitment to the Digital Agenda will provide citizens with the skills to meet the demands of the new economy and will help modernize public administrations, strengthen computer security, increase connectivity, and improve the business climate.
What does that mean for the citizens?
With the implementation of the Digital Agenda, citizens will develop their skills to use more government services available on the Internet, without worrying about their privacy. In addition, by digitizing services, citizens will be able to connect more and improve the climate for business activities that are currently taking place through bureaucratic procedures.
What is the role of ICEDA?
The public does not have much knowledge and information about the Digital Agenda of the European Union and that is why the IECEDA project aims to increase the participation of civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting, shaping and implementing the Digital Agenda in the Western Balkans.
As such, the project partners over the course of three years will work to increase the capacity of CSOs and the media to address the challenges of the Digital Agenda, as well as to promote the Digital Agenda nationally and locally. In addition, currently in the Western Balkans region, there are many digital services offered by public institutions available to citizens. Some of these services are tax returns, online payment for utilities, new business registration, etc. ICEDA will increase the use of e-services through promotion and contribution to solving problems that prevent their wider use, and it will strive for the introduction of new quality services by the authorities at all levels.
The project coordinator Blagica Cvetkoska from ACTAC promoted the local government support center for e-services which will operate within ACTAC.
Citizens will be able to get information and advice on how to get to the desired e-service more simply. This can be done in the following manners:
Physically – in the ACTAC office,
By telephone – 048 432 432,
Online – via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and on the website www.agtis.org.mk,
In the field – through a mobile info center and trained field informants.
The coordinator Blagica Cvetkoska also presented the national portal ww.uslugi.gov.mk and the procedure how to register a user.
The representative from the municipality of Prilep, Aleksandar Salatoski who manages the website of the municipality and is responsible for public relations in the municipality presented the e-services provided by the municipality of Prilep, the level of digitalization – that is, whether the service is complete – from submitting, processing, and obtaining the service.
“Our system works by having documents in the e-services menu that citizens can download and print or fill out electronically. For now, our work is exclusively over the counter, email submission is not allowed. Most documents are from the Department for Urbanism. Each request is processed in Word documents and bears a payment slip for the appropriate fee to be paid and where the request needs to be submitted.
One of the services that are completely electronic is the “Report a problem” system. At the moment, due to technical difficulties, it does not work, but they are already working on solving the problem and next week the new system is expected to be operational.
The second also the fully electronic system is the E-tax verification system. Also, the GIS portal is one of the newer projects with which the citizens can get acquainted with the cadastral parcels, DUP, etc.”- says Salatoski.
As he says, the use of e-services by citizens is at a very low level. According to statistics and Google Analytics on the municipal website, the number of clicks on e-services is less than 1% (or 0.89%) of the total clicks. Another problem is the lack of staff who would have responsibilities only for publishing open data, managing the website and promoting e-services.
Future efforts to improve the e-services provided by the municipality are already being made. Salatoski informs that the municipality is part of a project for electronic payment. Also, the municipality applied to MISA to be a pilot municipality for a document management system and they hope that the municipality will be part of the first municipalities that would use the system.
The workshop was also attended by the representative of the Municipality of Dolneni, Ajshe Muaremoska Topaloska, advisor from the Department of Education.
The Municipality of Dolneni offers e-services in the field of Urbanism. However, citizens do not use electronic services.
“Most often they come to the municipality and submit their requests here because they think that is the easiest way. Тhey are afraid of doing something wrong, or not having some documents. Perhaps the biggest problem here is the mistrust and lack of information of the population. We need to work in the field with the citizens, to explain to them how things are going, to educate them about e-services “- said Topaloska.
There is goodwill to cooperate with the non-governmental sector that could meet the needs of the municipalities by providing training to improve e-services as well as the professional staff who would become part of the municipalities to work together for better and more effective services. The participants agreed that digitalization is a priority that should be accelerated because of the pandemic, to adapt existing systems, with new, better and modern ones, to make an effort between administration to make a digital transformation in order to offer better services for the citizens.
The project “E-service as self-service” is implemented by ACTAC within the project funded by the European Union “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA”, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation and partners.
Note: The text and images are republished from the ACTAC website who are fully responsible for the content, with their written permission. For the original text, click here.