Conference “Digitalising Oversight of Public Enterprises”

Local news, 01.06.2021

The project Local Government Finance Reforms II in Serbia (RELOF2), supported by the Swiss Government and Ministry of Economy, has designed an information system that will help digitalise oversight of Serbian public enterprises. Starting next year, all public companies in the country will use the software to report their performance to their owners, it was announced today at the Digitalising Oversight of Public Enterprises conference.

Conference “Digitalising Oversight of Public Enterprises”
Conference “Digitalising Oversight of Public Enterprises” ©RELOF

Richard Kohli, Head of Cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in Belgrade, said that Switzerland prioritises assistance to local authorities, as they are in closest contact with citizens and can best address the needs of communities. ‘Today, digitalisation matters because it contributes hugely to the transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness of local authorities’, Kohli said, adding his conviction that the software would be instrumental in this regard and also help building trust between local authorities and the public.

Andjelka Atanaskovic, Minister of Economy, described how digitalisation was high on the Serbian Government’s agenda and that this process had deeply affected all parts of the public administration.

‘The general public and businesses see the government to a large extent reflected in the performance of public enterprises, especially local ones, since the services they provide have a direct bearing on the quality of life and the business environment. Each of us has a different task and responsibility, but we all share the same goal – to have public enterprises which efficiently deliver services to the public and businesses. The introduction of this information system confirms that the Ministry of Economy is on the path of modernisation and digitalisation, and that it intends to create an environment more conducive to doing business as well as help citizens’, the Minister said, thanking the Swiss government for its long-standing support to the Ministry of Economy for improving corporate governance at local public enterprises.

Georgios Chatzigiagkou, Project Supervisor for RELOF2, said that, over the past several years, the Project had supported the Ministry of Economy, local governments and municipal enterprises in improving their fiscal risk management capabilities and introducing principles of corporate governance in their daily operations. ‘This close collaboration with all three stakeholders, the Ministry of Economy, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the subnational partners, has culminated in the development of a new software management tool for managing risk oversight of municipal enterprises’ operations. Many person days currently invested in the filling out, correction and distribution of reports by the local and national public enterprises will be thus saved through the utilisation of the new information system. An environment of evidence-based decision-making will be nurtured’, concluded Chatzigiagkou.

The oversight system was custom-made for the Ministry of Economy with support from RELOF2. It will serve as the official reporting channel from public enterprises to their local government owners, as well as from the local authorities to the Ministry of Economy. ‘Reporting had previously focused on report-writing and data entry, which was highly time-consuming. We are now seeking to reduce the time spent writing reports, where the software will help, and this will free up staff for operational analyses and planning’, explained Ana Jolović, RELOF2 Team Leader, adding that public enterprises were a crucial part of the system as they directly affected quality of life and the business environment.

The Government of Switzerland supports RELOF 2 project in the period of 2019-2023 to the tune of EUR 2,8 million. The overall support including first phase amounts to EUR 4,4 million.

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