Despite a good infrastructure and the presence of state-of-the-art information technology, Croatia is falling behind in digitisation, which should be a priority of all governments, it was said among else at a conference on Wednesday.

The "Croatia 2.0: Digital solutions for a better future" conference was organised by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) together with the Croatian Business Angels Network (CRANE) and Uber Croatia and attracted entrepreneurs to hear what various political camps plan to do with regard to digitisation.

Uber director for Southeast Europe Davor Tremac said that the company planned an action on election day - "I'm giving my vote" and would provide voters with free transport to polling stations that day.

HUP Deputy Director General Bernard Jakelic suggested that digitisation should be the priority for all political parties and employers expect the new government to actively join HUP in such initiatives.

CRANE President Davorin Stetner warned that the basis for a digital economy is a good eco-system for entrepreneurs which, however, requires political will to create it in the shortest possible time.

There is too much red-tape in Croatia, simple receipts are governed by several laws and by-laws and is that really necessary? Companies can be opened in many countries on-line without public notaries and other regulations that exist in Croatia which make work expensive, Stetner underscored.

Almost all speakers, including Latvian MP Edvards Smiltens, referred to the problems of excessive red-tape.

"Latvia is a country with a fast-growing economy mostly thanks to digitisation however, it is still falling behind developed Europe due to the loss of 10% of its population which emigrated to West Europe and we still hope that we will supplement that with innovative enterprise and by faster making decisions to create a more favourable business environment," Smiltens said.

Political representatives too commented on the lethargy of state and local administration which is inhibiting the introduction of digital models such as electronic invoices and other on-line services for citizens and entrepreneurs, adding that a digital officer or team is required to monitor these processes.

Public Administration Minister Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic considers that digital society and digital economy should be above all political discussion and called for political and social consensus in that regard.

It is necessary to downsize the number of ministries and regional offices for which huge amounts are paid from the budget which could be redirected to something more innovative, she said. 

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