Electronic birth certificate, photo by Pixabay, edited by Portalb.mk

Only 6.5 per cent of the requests submitted by the citizens for issuing birth, death, or marriage certificates are in electronic form, while the rest are submitted in person, i.e. with a physical presence. On the other hand, there is an upward trend in the number of citizens scheduling an appointment for issuing their personal identification card or travel document through the electronic system. This is shown by the data provided by Portalb.mk in cooperation with the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” for certain services in the Republic of North Macedonia that citizens mostly used in 2022

North Macedonia still lacks a database for the use of electronic services provided by public institutions. In the absence of data, Portalb.mk and ICEDA provided data from several institutions, which were the subject of our research in 2020, but also from the continuation of the research in 2022. This time, we compare to what extent electronic services were used then and what the situation is like now.

In North Macedonia, there are 1,525,366 citizens over the age of 15, according to the latest census from 2021. Of those, 244,651 have their profile on the e-services portal, i.e. 91,159 are users which have registered on the portal and 153,492 are users of the Single Sign-on System. According to these figures, only 16 per cent of the population over the age of 15 in RNM has access to the national platform for e-services.

The following infographic shows the number of platform users over the years, not including those who registered through the Single Sign-on System.

In December 2019, the National e-Services Portal started operating, enabling citizens access to information about the public services from competent state authorities. Additionally, through this portal, requests for obtaining some electronic services can be submitted, compensations or administrative fees can be paid, the status of procedures can be tracked, or other steps in the execution of an administrative service can be taken. However, in order to do all of this, one must first create an account, i.e. create an “eID” profile.

Out of a total of 1,288 institutions, the portal offers 234 services, of which 95 can be used directly. The total number of requests since 2019 is 34,084, and in the last 30 days, 1,466 requests have been submitted.

The citizens fill out the forms on paper

The catastrophic data from the Office for Management of Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths (UVMK), which does the civil registry, i.e. it manages the registration and issuance of birth, marriage, and death certificates, shows to what extent citizens in Macedonia use the electronic services for the most essential documents in their everyday life.

Over 490,000 citizens filled out forms in person in the UVMK offices in 2022 in order to obtain certificates of birth, marriage, death, and other personal documents, while only 35,000 applied for these documents online. According to these figures, only 6.5 per cent of citizens’ requests for issuing certificates of birth, death, marriage, or other documents issued by UVMK were in electronic form, while 93.5 per cent were submitted in person.

The number of citizens who filled out forms electronically in 2022 is almost identical to that of 2021, with 34,764 citizens filling out forms for UVMK services through the electronic system.

However, a different situation arises when it comes to citizens’ requests for scheduling appointments to obtain personal identification cards or passports. 43 per cent of citizens applied through the electronic system, while 57 per cent applied by phone. In figures, this amounts to over 289,000 citizens using the electronic system, a number that is 116,000 higher than in 2021.

Portalb.mk has also analysed some of the services provided by the Central Registry, which citizens prefer to use in person.

For example, in 2022, the “Prohibition on practising the profession, authorization” service was used electronically in only 20.6 per cent of cases. The “Prohibition on participating in public announcements” service was used electronically in only 24.4 per cent of cases, and the “Confirmation of bankruptcy proceedings” service was used electronically in only 25.7 per cent of cases.

Compared to 2021, the numbers for the use of these three services in electronic form are almost identical.

The citizens rarely use electronic services

According to a survey conducted between February 28 and March 3 this year by the Institute for Political Research – Skopje, 58.2 per cent of citizens prefer to do certain services in person, at a counter, if they need to. Only 33.9 per cent say they would do the job online if they could.

According to the educational structure, the survey shows that citizens who have completed education which is of higher quality more often turn to using administrative services online. So, if 62.1 per cent of respondents with higher education stated that they prefer online administrative services, only 11.6 per cent of those who have not even completed primary education share the same opinion.

The survey shows that over two-thirds of citizens have never used an online service in a public institution, while only 26.5 per cent said they used online services from state institutions, and a staggering 69.2 per cent have never tried to get a document or service online.

According to citizens, the reform in public administration should not be done through new hires, but through reducing the number of employees and digitization. This opinion was provided by 53.3 per cent of the respondents, while 23.7 per cent think that the reforms in public administration should be focused on new hires and training.

With regard to the efficiency of institutions that provide administrative services, most citizens do not see any changes in the last five years.

On the other hand, it should be noted that according to a previous survey carried out by Portalb.mk, the citizens of North Macedonia can hardly obtain documents “with a mere click” on the internet. This is happening because the country provides limited electronic services, the potential of the national portal is not fully utilized, and citizens, although they have the equipment, do not have enough information about the electronic services.

According to the research conducted by Portalb.mk, it turns out that it is unknown how many citizens have used these electronic services, compared to the traditional services that are done in person. If RNM were to digitize like the countries of the European Union, whose member it purports to become, then some documents that should not exist would be withdrawn from use, as they increase the costs of the citizens and represent a waste of time when applying and waiting.

Link to the original article: Only 6.5 per cent of the requests for certificates in 2022 were filled out by citizens in electronic form [infographic] | Meta.mk

This investigative story was prepared as part of the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA”, co-funded by the European Union and implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the e-Governance Academy (Estonia), Movement Mjaft! (Albania), Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro), and Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo).

This investigative story was prepared with the financial support of the European Union. The content of this investigative story is the sole responsibility of the Metamorphosis Foundation and the author and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.