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Higher Budget Allocations Required to Develop Electronic Governance

The 2018 state budget bill calls for allocating 1.6% of financial resources for development of information technology systems, public services, information-communication systems, cyber security, electronic governance, innovations and technologies.

It should be noted that the 2018 state budget bill allocates 2.5mln GEL for developing electronic governance, 5.08mln GEL – for development of innovations and technologies, 3.92mln GEL – development of joint state technologies, 2mln GEL – electronic trainings, 1.5mln GEL – cyber security, 61.6mln GEL – development and attainability of services of State Services Development Agency, 26.2mln GEL – provision of information-communication technologies to educational facilities and pupils/students, 8.04mln GEL – provision of communications and development of information technologies, 10mln GEL – Georgian national innovations ecosystem project (IBRD), 15.05mln GEL – electronic and analytical provision of management of finances, other direct and indirect expenditures determined by state budget for the field development.

The mentioned budget bill includes such processes as: digitalization of the Ministry’s archival documents; role of digital diplomacy; growth in role of technologies in operation of state offices as part of modernization program; improvement of financial services based on modern technologies; enhancement of modern technologies in exams and academic process; enhancement of the role and importance of modern technologies in higher education process; enhancement of distant education component; support of establishment of technologies in scientific-research facilities; provision of stability, safety and of Public Financial Management (electronic) System (PFMS) and other information-communication technologies and their reliable operation; research, analysis, introduction of IT products, electronic services  for the Ministry and other interested organizations; provision of safety of national archives foundation, introduction of modern technologies of services and provision of attainability of documents.

The budget bill aims at promoting an introduction of modern technologies and innovations and popularizing Georgia as a technological hub for long-term economic development of the country, as part of economic development support efforts; development of information-communication infrastructure, provision of business customs and technical support; promotion of information and cyber security; development, introduction and support of websites and other information systems, shaping and development of national innovations ecosystem.

It is worth noting that the project for infrastructure improvement and internetization calls for building 8000-kilometer infrastructure and connecting 800 000 persons to the Internet. However, it should be also noted that the document does not say when the internetization project will end.

Social and economic benefits of the mentioned processes remain unknown, feedback of state-implemented programs is not determined, volume of growth in number of employed through development of national innovations ecosystem is not determined. Electronic commerce turnover and budget revenues are not analyzed.

Regretfully, based on the state budget analysis, it may be said that the current budget allocations do not suffice for developing internet market, establishing cyber companies, developing internet products and services, upgrading the role of electronic governance, growing exports of electronic commerce, developing electronic business and enlarging internet economy.

All components of financing structure make accent on education, sharing foreign experience and introduction it to Georgia, enhancement of the role and importance of technologies in the working process. At the same time, the document does not stress that modern technologies and innovations in the country may be introduced thanks to investments, policy, legal environment, strategy and state programs, governance and political environment. At the same time, it comprises no academic description of the role of technologies in economic fields.

Based on analysis of programs, it should be noted that there are such «outdated» themes as «popularization, educating, informing”. These directions represent constituent parts anyway, but now the following directions should be included in the agenda:

  • Assessment of results of developed and implemented programs;
  • Efficiency of developed digital ecosystem and appraisal of scales of regional influence;
  • assessment of results of planned events and scales of benefits to receive;
  • assessment of potential of stimulated digital environment and analysis of results;
  • measuring the role of technologies in business and state sectors and their calculation;

Thus, it is worth noting as recommendations that:

  • government should determine the size of direct and indirect benefits of the potential of the technological hub;
  • potential of introduction of modern and innovative technologies should be appraised in economic fields;
  • ways for employment and popularization of digital market investment potential should be determined;
  • When stressing the role of digital diplomacy, attention should be paid to digital economy diplomacy. Moreover, foreign policy should make focus on emphasizing the investment potential of digital market and potential of digital business environment.
  • Accents should be made on programs promoting new business processes, shaping business models, developing new processes;
  • Results received from developing and implementing digital economic policy require academic analysis, based on growing budget.
  • The country needs a responsible office, which will bear responsibility for results and coordinate an implementation and purposeful financing of digital environment and electronic governance development policy in Georgia;

Finally, talkings about strategic developments should be reflected in financial and strategic support. Otherwise, limited financial resources, inefficient digital policy, existing programs and strategy cannot make essential influence on development of digital environment and the role of regional leadership.

Rati Abuladze, doctor of economics