Cyprus has made great strides in the provision of e-government services, Undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides said on Monday.
At a news conference to update the public on the latest state of play, Petrides said a system for electronic signatures would be available by the end of 2017, which would cut the need for the public to visit certain government offices in person. The system is to be put out to tender in early 2017.
Currently there are 150 services that requires the physical presence of a member of the public.
Also a special mobile phone app has been created for this year that will provide a number of e-services to the public and another five would be added in 2017.
So far, the public has 41 of these services available to them. These include, renewing road tax licences, paying social insurance contributions and school/university fees.
Petrides said another 46 services would be added over the next two years – 18 this year and 28 in 2017.
“No state can be called friendly to the public unless it provides a range of services, if possible all, in electronic form,” he said.
The aim of e-government is to reduce bureaucracy and increase productivity and transparency, cut costs and offer a 24-hour higher-quality service.
By 2020, Cyprus wants to have the digital world become integral in the public’s use of government services.
“E-government is not only a software system, but multifaceted reform on possibly hundreds of laws involving a large amount of coordination and training,” said Petrides.
The aim is for the public to have to submit their details once “so that people are not being shuttled from one government service to another”.
Joining the system, called Ariadni, requires a trip to the Citizens Service to fill in a form.
Once that is done, the public can begin using the government portal.
There is a €0.50 cost per transaction to use the government e-services. One transaction may include more than one e-service.
Asked about the cost of full e-government, Petrides said it was not easy t calculate even though some estimates put the cost at half a billion euros.
“Cost aside, how do you measure the suffering, how do you measure the hassle?” he said.
Petrides said there was also the savings of a paperless government consider. Since the cabinet went digital, he said two million sheets of paper had already been saved in a year. If this were applied to the House, the amount would be double that, he said.
He also announced that this month, the labour ministry would be upgrading the electronic payment system for the social insurance fund, which involves online payment of contributions.
In May, the cabinet approved dozens of services to be used online means by 2017, residents in Cyprus will have a total of 87 services available to them digitally without the need to stand in long queues.