Digital leap sought for productivity and quality of life

The government is aiming for a «digital leap» to improve productivity and quality of life by 2013, officials said yesterday. Greece lags other European countries when it comes to new technologies. For example, the European Union-subsidized Information Society investment program remains virtually untapped, said Vassilis Assimakopoulos, special secretary of the Economy Ministry’s Information Society Program, during a presentation about Greece’s digital strategy for the 2006-2013 period. A final proposal will be submitted to the government for approval by the end of the year. The programs are supposed to start materializing in early 2006. Assimakopoulos said the digital strategy is divided into two parts. The first part of the plan will be enacted by 2008, and the second one by 2013. The two parts of the strategy include more than 65 actions overall. By 2008, the government will emphasize development of electronic supplies, boosting broadband connections, transferring the five most frequently requested documents by companies into computers, providing digital services for citizens, and the institutionalizing the electronic signature. A campaign familiarizing people with new technologies is also planned. After 2008, the strategy includes creating one-stop e-points to serve companies, reorganizing the public sector and incorporating new technologies into the education system. Assimakopoulos also said the digital strategy will involve possible public-private cooperations in electronic governance projects. To accomplish this, Greece wants to train people for the digital age and staff its technological initiatives. The Interior Ministry’s Electronic Governance general secretary, Vassilis Andronopoulos, said the three major programs – the national Internet portal «Hermes,» the Single Authentication and Transaction Security System, and the Single Interoperability System for Public Service Systems – will reduce the companies’ administrative burden and improve people’s quality of life. Citizens must be informed about the potential and opportunities of the IT systems, said Demosthenis Anagnostopoulos, general secretary for IT systems in the Economy Ministry. Anagnostopoulos stressed that the main goal is improving productivity. The coordinated operation of public services systems is essential, he said. One of the strategy’s objectives is giving electronic access to transactions with the tax and customs authorities and to state pensions. Constantinos Doukas, president and CEO of Information Society, said the companies’ business plan about digital technologies must be clear and suggested that enterprises involved in this sector should be rewarded.

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