Uzbek delegation visited Latvia to study its e-services

Oct 21, 2016

A delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan visited Latvia on October 16-21, 2016 to learn the Latvian practice of streamlining public service delivery mechanisms through e-government. The study tour was organized by the UNDP Uzbekistan project "E-Government Promotion for Improved Public Service Delivery" and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation comprised civil servants representing the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Chamber of Commerce, Tashkent city Administration and UNDP project.

The main purpose of the visit was to exchange knowledge and insights with Latvian public authorities on the development of electronic services with a particular focus on "back offices" of government agencies, research best practices on re-engineering public service delivery procedures, as well as other issues related to online public services delivery.

Members of the Uzbek delegation visited key Latvian public agencies responsible for promoting e-government, such as Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Justice, Department of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (DCMA), State Revenue Service, Riga IT Democenter. The delegates learned about the Latvian e-government architecture and practice of digitalizing public services. The participants were presented with the national strategy of e-government in Latvia, discussed the challenges in converting public services to electronic form, measures taken to address them and the lessons learned.

On the first day of the tour, the Uzbek delegation met with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, where learned about the Latvian ICT infrastructure. This country has developed a high level of IT-infrastructure. Latvia is among top-5 European countries in terms of Wi-Fi coverage, speed and affordability of the Internet. According to Eurostat data for 2015, 36% of people use Internet to obtain public services. EU allocate significant funds for the development and implementation of ICT in public agencies in Latvia. Electronic services are accessible via the portal Public service delivery is based on four principles: (1) orientation on user needs; (2) data reuse and sharing; (3) open data and services; (4) security and interoperability.

At the State Social Insurance Agency, the delegation was acquainted with the social services delivery. In Latvia, 38 service centers provide 60 types of services, including social and disability benefits. Agency issues certificates for pension funds via these centers (through interagency cooperation), which are used in pensions clearance. The centers serve as "front-offices", accept applications and forward them to the Agency. The centers process around 2000 applications per month. There are various means of authentication, including virtual electronic signature, eID, and bankcards. Retirement pension service is not performed electronically, because pensioners do not tend to use computers. Projected pension is a certificate that allows you to get information about the size of the pension at the time of the request, if a person plans to retire. This certificate has been issued in electronic form since 2011. Regardless of how a service is delivered, in paper or electronic form, all data is accumulated and stored in user’s personal account.

The Ministry of Education and Science presented "information systems in education" to the Uzbek delegation. Ministry representatives talked about the main education information system and its integration with the public employment system, police, public portal, municipalities of 115 schools, 15 kindergartens and 11 sports schools.

During the meeting in the Department of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, special attention was paid to the law "On Population Register" (1992), which regulates individuals’ registry. In Latvia, every individual at birth is assigned a unique personal identification number. All authentication methods primarily use this number to identify an applicant. Personal code is used in many documents issued by public authorities for electronic service delivery.

Introduction of electronic identification cards (eID) has significantly reduced the time and costs throughout the country. Notably, the Latvian Finance Minister signed the 8 billion euro state budget using the eID.

At the State Revenue Service, the delegation reviewed the process of income declaration of individuals. This declaration is submitted entirely in electronic form with scanned versions of supporting documents attached. 90% of the information is already available to the tax service. The declaration mainly serves the purpose of returning tax deductions, arising from the many tax benefits existing in Latvia for its residents. For example, the cost of medical services are deducted from the tax base. It is also possible to obtain a no debt certificate, which may be required by other organizations. This certificate has a special code and QR-Code.

As follow-up to the visit, a workshop will be organized in November in Tashkent for representatives of Uzbek government agencies and media, where the participants of the study tour will share the knowledge and insights about the Latvian experience of improving and digitalizing public services.

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