The National Assembly hosted a public hearing with the topic: Digitalisation in Serbia – Where We are Today, organised by the Committee on Education, Science, Technological Development and the Information Society.
At the very beginning of the meeting, National Assembly Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committee on Education, Science, Technological Development and the Information Society Dr Muamer Zukorlic greeted the attending, pointing out that the Committee he is heading has approached its obligations seriously. To facilitate operation, the Committee had set up two subcommittees, viz.: Subcommittee on the Information Society and Digitalisation, which is actually the organiser of the public hearing, and Subcommittee on Youth and Sports.
Zukorlic used the opportunity to thank the Chairperson of the Subcommittee, Marina Ragus, who launched the initiative for today's public hearing. The Committee Chairman stated that the term digitalisation entered the Serbian language not so long ago and it is one of the terms that quickly found a place in everyday life, as a consequence of the technological revolution which the world finds itself in.
"Today we are here to demonstrate the National Assembly’s determination and readiness to truly be the home of all citizens, to meet their needs and address all topics of importance for them. The meaning of public hearings is that we, the MPs whom the citizens have entrusted with the adoption of laws and decision-making, receive the necessary information from public experts to make our work as good as possible", said the Committee Chairman. He added that public hearings are one of the freest types of the National Assembly’s work, where the views, opinions and needs of the people can be heard freely, openly and professionally.
He also said that, when it comes to digitalisation, we encounter numerous challenges. On the one hand, the intrusion of technology and technological achievements into our lives and its necessity, and on the other, the excessive need for it and its excessive consumption. He said that extremes of any kind are harmful and that human moderation in everything is the key to a people’s success and value. He pointed out that technological aids should remain at the level of aids, be used in our everyday lives without taking them over, taking them hostage.
Addressing the gathering, National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic opined that the fight against the pandemic is entering its final phase and that digitalisation will have an extremely important place in our plans for the post-pandemic period, as best confirmed in the past year when we were forced to move from the real to the digital world. The period after the crisis will not be the same as the one before it, Dacic said adding that the world has changed dramatically in the past year. That is why we need to recognise the direction of these changes on time and that time is right now, and catch the wave that will bring us into the company of the most digitally developed communities, said Dacic sharing his confidence that this public hearing will contribute to that goal.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Vladimir Orlic, said that what many associate with the policies of the President of the Republic Aleksandar Vucic is the economy, vaccination, highways, investments, jobs, but modernisation and digitalisation are certainly among the first. He reminded the attending of President Vucic's 2014 expose in the National Assembly announcing a dynamic introduction of electronic administration, without delays, postponements or excuses. This meant a substantial improvement of those processes which were until then believed to be possible only in the old-fashioned way.
“In 2014, we addressed the citizens with the words "the future we believe in" and with those words we asked for their support, it turned out that that future can become the present, and we can make it even better", said Deputy Speaker Orlic. He pointed out that the National Assembly plays a special role in these processes and has made its modest contribution to the laws that introduced direct innovations through electronic processes and systems in a substantial number of areas.
Orlic said that this year, like the previous, there is no bigger topic than the pandemic, in the world or in our country, but Serbia can be proud of the fact that it is extremely successful in combating the disease, among other things thanks to the results achieved in the domain of digitalisation, which directly affected the vaccination process making Serbia is first in Europe.
“The data centre recently opened in Kragujevac is giant leap, but the fact that the thing we organised and made is attractive and motivates the world's largest companies to turn to Serbia with the desire to use the services of that centre is a clear indicator of what we have done and where stands Serbia today", concluded Orlic, adding that other countries are also inquiring about the possibility of storing their most valuable data in the Serbian data centre. He emphasised that digitalisation is exactly what investors are interested in in the modern world, the possibility of remote registration of workers, better registers and complete elimination of paperwork.
Deputy Speaker Orlic pointed out that what once sounded like science fiction is a reality today and an even more exciting and successful future awaits us ahead, one in which Serbia shows that it can be a good house for all our children.
In the introductory speech, Marina Ragus, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Information Society and Digitalisation, also addressed the attending, reminding them that, in September last year, the SPAS Parliamentary Group launched an initiative to form a Subcommittee on the Information Society and Digitalisation.
Ragus thanked, first of all to Deputy Speaker Dr Vladimir Orlic because, she said, he was responsible for the establishment of the Subcommittee, as a compromise solution until such time the National Assembly Rules of Procedure are amended.
She also thanked the representatives of the the Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment, UNDP, and the other participants in the meeting.
"I hope that this day will be constructive, that we will raise many topics of social importance related to the digitalisation process and we expect your professional help, primarily from IT experts and NGOs, and the members of the Subcommittee are there to listen, understand and in the end, we will support your ideas ", said Subcommittee Chairperson Marina Ragus.
The results of digitalisation achieved so far were presented to the participants of the public hearing by the representatives of the Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment: Director Dr Mihailo Jovanovic, Deputy Director Zoran Misic and Assistant Director Ana Sarenac.
Representatives of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Slobodan Markovic and Drazen Maravic, representative of the IT community – Serbian National Internet Domain Registry (RNIDS) and “Pojacalo” Ivan Minic and President of the Serbian Informatics Association Nikola Markovic spoke about the challenges, future plans and cooperation in the field of digitalisation.
Dario Kukolj, National Assembly Assistant Secretary General and Head of the Operations and Technical Affairs and Information Technology Sector, spoke about the Agreement on the Use of "Telehousing" Services in the State Data Centre. He pointed out that the Agreement is a strategic document for the National Assembly as it gives the parliament the opportunity to use the most modern data centre in the region, to securely store and access data.
This will ensure that, in the event of a possible failure of the infrastructure systems in the Assembly, the system in Kragujevac automatically provides support, so that neither the deputies nor the National Assembly Service feel the interruption.
"The National Assembly has an extensive archive, a couple of years ago we started digitising archival material and we are very free and open to hand it over to other institutions," said Kukolj. He pointed out said that the signing of the Agreement represents a continuation of the successful cooperation between the Parliament and the Office for IT and eGovernment.
After the public hearing, Deputy Secretary General of the National Assembly Srdjan Smiljanic and Director of the Office for Information Technology and Electronic Administration Dr Mihailo Jovanovic signed Agreement on the Use of "Telehousing" Services in the State Data Centre.