Breaking the chain of corruption

Estonia has finally reached its goal set 20 years ago to become the Baltic Tiger. Estonia’s population is 1.5 million, half of Mongolia’s, and its territory is 45.3 thousand hectares, close to that of Bayan Ulgii Province. But Estonia’s GDP per capita was 26,000 USD last year, which is 10 times higher than when the state split from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Former Prime Minister Mart Laar started an open economic policy in 1992, privatized state property, and enforced smart monetary and taxation policies. The country’s politicians gradually realized the need to improve communications technology to increase the productivity of its small population. Their government eliminated bureaucracy and decreased human involvement in their services, and even started to conduct electronic meetings instead of using paper.
Almost 20 years have passed since Estonian ministries and government agencies started electronic services that weren’t confined to work hours or location.
Estonian ID cards are the safest and most secure in the world, and allow individuals to access many databases. The country was the first to conduct online elections at all levels in 2005. Since then, they have never reverted. Estonian bank transactions are conducted online 99 percent of the time, 95 percent of taxes are filed online, and 98 percent of medical prescriptions are given online. The country has even started granting citizenship electronically. An entrepreneur can register their company in 20 minutes, access and change information about their assets and legal information, and share information about their products and services with state servers.
Wi-Fi services have reached rural areas of Estonia, and its capital, Tallinn, ranks among the top 10 in the world in terms of wireless internet services. All of its state organizations and schools, and 80 percent of the general population have a cable connection. Four out of five people in Estonia have access to a computer at home, and 3G and 4G services have spread throughout the country.

E-society and infrastructure

Estonians have started referring to themselves as an electronic country, or e-Estonia. State and private sector services have all transferred to an electronic format, and almost everyone speaks English. An e-Police service protects the livelihoods, safety, and property of its citizens. For instance, a traffic police officer can look up the registration, technical assessment, all types of insurance data, and validity of a vehicle driving in front of them in just a matter of seconds. A police officer might stop you just to remind that you have only few days left until your permit expires, for example.
Parents can monitor whether their child has arrived at school, how well they are doing with their homework, and what grades they are getting via text message. An individual spends seven minutes on average to pay their income taxes. All medical data for patients can be accessed by doctors, but the information is not the property of hospitals but of the patient’s. All prescribed medication can be purchased at pharmacies by scanning an electronic ID card. The amount of money in your retirement or health insurance account can be checked any time. People use their cell phones to pay for and find parking spaces.
Estonians believe that their information is more secure, as they are able to check who or which organization has accessed their information when, where, and how many times.
School and kindergarten curriculums have been developed and tailored for their region by teachers, and special applications for testing and evaluation have been developed. Estonian children are taught programming from second grade, and little by little, they are being taught how mobile phones, tablets, computers, and their programs work.
All electronic servers have a connected and open platform, rather than a centralized one. Individuals and organizations access all servers available to them through X-Road.
Since the Estonian government launched e-services, its staff and operational costs have dropped considerably, and corruption has been eradicated. A law that verified electronic signatures has rendered all accounts and services transparent. By using secure and safe electronic signatures, Estonia was able to cut costs equal to two percent of its GDP, which is the same as its defense budget.

On the path to e-Mongolia

Mongolia has been talking about e-government since the latter part of the last century. Dozens of heads of state have traveled to many countries, including Estonia, to learn from their experience. But our e-governance is nothing more than hit or miss information sites, the result of a government that has a lower than average education level, considers its interests above the public’s, and where political parties have become mafias.
More than 100,000 Mongolian businesses file their social insurance reports electronically. They have to file a physical document to their district social insurance inspector within the first five days of the month. The document needs to have the signature of the inspector to be verified. On the following day, companies have to report payments in the social insurance books of all of their staff. If a company has more than several hundred staff, the employees will need to line up at the accountant’s desk for three to four hours to have their social insurance books signed. When lunch time hits, they will be escorted to the corridor and wait for an additional hour.
Because of all this manual work, state officials were recently discovered to have been defrauding money from the pensions of more than 500 deceased people. When a person dies, the law states that their pension for the month after their death has to be issued. The officials not only transferred 1.5 billion MNT through 1,000 transactions, but even took out pension loans and paying them off from the accounts of the deceased victims. Commercial banks gave loans equal to 750 million MNT through the accounts of the deceased, according to a story published by Unuudur on October 9.
What is the real interest of ministers and deputies who claim to have brought e-governance to the country after allowing an environment for such a blunder to occur?
In Estonia, health and social insurance are paid electronically. The authorized organization and individuals can check their reports and accounts through their electronic signature.
The fact that Estonia’s neighbor Finland has adopted the system indicates the universal acceptance and embrace of electronic infrastructure and its productivity. Nobody can foretell the future, but it can be planned with precise calculations. Estonia is a place where the future begins today.


Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=16611

Posted by on Oct 27 2015. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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