Bulgaria Has Spent 2 Billion on E-Government

According to data from the Bulgarian Industrial Association, the state of Bulgaria has spent over 2 billion BGN (€1 billion) on e-government over the last 14 years. In comparison, Estonia has only spent 25 million Euro on e-government for the last 15 years and BIA's data suggests that Estonia is doing much better than Bulgaria. 

In 2001 Estonia's government introduced the first ID-cards with unique chips. The chip serves multiple purposes - one can pay their parking fee with it, a ticket for the public transportation network. Chips also contain all sorts of personal but non-confidential data - in a case of a medical emergency, emergency teams can access a person's clinical record and use it as a reference. The government also introduced a feature called MobileID, which enables citizens to use their smartphones as digital ID-Cards. Estonians can also opt for a governmental e-mail address that enables them to stay in touch with the authorities and contact them when in need. 

But how is Bulgaria doing? Currently, Bulgarians can pick from 2900 different e-services. Only 13% of them are "complex" and the other 87% are "basic" services. Estonia's e-government consists of more than 900 systems that offer over 5000 e-services - most of them "complex". Only a fifth of administrative services in Bulgaria can be found in in the list of e-services and only 12% of administrations have special records of their e-services. One-third of all administrative records are only available in a paper format. 

BIA's data suggests that the amount of printers in Bulgaria's governmental institutions is about three times higher than that of servers. 98% of inquiries are made to only five administrative institutions in Bulgaria. Over the last 12 months, only 19% of Bulgarians have had online communication with the government. In Estonia, that number is 77%. Throughtout Estonia there are 1200 free public Wi-Fi networks.

Since 2007 anybody can create a company online for under 15 minutes. The company can even get all of its licenses and start working on the same day. In Bulgaria starting a business takes on average 23 days. 87% of Estonians use the Internet (in Bulgaria it's 60%). Even more astonishing numbers are - 96,3% of Estonians sign in their tax returns digitally and 98% of all bank deals happen online. Even deals with notaries happen online most of the time. This is because all personal data from the public record is also available online - mortgages, taxes, criminal records.

On average Bulgarians need 453 hours to prepare and pay their taxes. This is 9 times more time than in Estonia. The BIA also notes that because of e-government Estonia manages to save up to 2 tonnes of paper per year. Estonians also have online school systems, where parents can stay in touch with the teachers and up to date with all of their childrens' assignments and notes.

About 90% of Estonians are now able to vote online on each election. This is a matter that is rarely discussed in Bulgaria and most politicians shy away from the subject. It is rather shameful that Bulgaria has spent 40 times more than Estonia on e-government and people are either unaware of its existance or unhappy with its functions. And they don't even know how much their country has paid.

Vasil Manev

Vasil Manev is a student in Computer Science and an aspiring columnist, studying in Heidelberg, Germany.

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