“The Entire Legislation is Available on the Web”
What e-content means in Romania:
A: E-content in Romania means the digital content developed for and used by Romanian citizens, companies, and public institutions, in order to share public information and knowledge and to improve creativity. E-content is what adds real value to the communication infrastructure and to the investments in information systems. It ensures their use at full capacity.
What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?
During last few years, public institutions and the private sector have understood the need to have solid and accessible digital content. All newspapers have online versions and the leaders in the area have also created forums to express opinions regarding a hot topic or a certain article. All public institutions have their own web sites or portals, providing information of public interest right from the functions of the institution to the financial statements of public officials, thus ensuring transparency of the administration’s activity and providing clear control mechanisms.
Even more, through a law adopted in 2003, public institutions have to provide public information and services through their web sites. Public servants are required to have an ECDL diploma in order to be able to face the requirements of the knowledge based economy. The private enterprises in Romania are using digital content in order to improve their businesses and one could say that no company in Romania would now be taken seriously if it did not provide at least a web page for more details about its activities. Romanian people use e-content to study and take part in the creation of such materials. The entire legislation is available on the web and many museums, cultural works and entertainment activities are based on digital content.
Which e-content area is best developed in your country?
In each country, the Government being the biggest buyer, the biggest service provider, and the biggest employer, has to be the leader in the creation and stimulation of digital content. Since 2001, the Romanian Government has started to implement e-government projects. The e-procurement system, the electronic payment of local taxes, the National Electronic System are just some examples of the best practices in the creation, sharing and use of e-content.
Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?
All sectors are involved in the creation of digital content, but truly, the leader’s role in Romania is occupied by the Government. e-government has been aggressively promoted in the past few years as it is considered the best way of organizing public management in order to increase efficiency, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness to citizens, as well as to reduce bureaucracy and corruption, through the intensive and strategic use of ICT in the inner management of the public sector, as well as in its daily relations with citizens and users of public services. Since the beginning of 2001, approximately 30 pilot projects employing ICT were finalized.
Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?.
First of all, it is worth mentioning how the .ro domains have evolved in the past few years: .ro has existed since 1993. The following figures show the growth of the .ro domains registered: 1993 – 10; 1994 – 38; 1997 – 963; 1998 – 1,915; 1999 – 6,487 (growth rate of 200%); 2000 – 16,044 (growth rate of 200%); 2001 – 30,109 (growth rate of 100%); present – 65,000. The number of the domains also characterizes the development of their e-content which is now comparable with the international level. The evolution trend seems to forecast an intense growth for the next period too. Romania is online. The private sector as well as the public sector have understood the importance of e-content. Today 98% of the Romanian Prefectures and City Councils already have a local portal able to provide digital content as do 74% of Romanian municipalities.
Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.
At the Governmental level there are three major initiatives now deployed, that surely iinfluenced the development of e-content in the country. The electronic systems to pay local taxes are now in use in about 60% of municipalities. The electronic system for public acquisitions and the National Electronic System, the e-government gateway, is supposed to have the most substantial effect on the development of e-content in Romania’s public sector as its purpose is to ensure that every individual or institution with Internet access, both within the country and abroad, can access online information and services provided by the Government without knowing in advance which specific entity to contact. This service will be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?
There is a vicious cycle here: e-content development depends on the number of users. On the other hand, people decide to use electronic means when they provide value to them, which is achieved through digital content. The major challenge is to find instruments to stimulate the development of digital content despite there being a low number of users, which will ensure growth.
In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.
The communications infrastructure in Romania is well developed. Thus the necessary infrastructure for the use of digital content is in place. The Government has acted, in the last few years, as a promoter for the development of digital content, but right now, this is better distributed among different sectors in society: the business sector or civil society.
How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.
The transition to the Information Society is one of the strategic goals of the Romanian Government for the entire period from 2001 to 2004, as it aims at the improvement of the quality of services offered to citizens and the increased competitiveness of the Romanian economy. Nevertheless, Romania is involved in the global European effort for the development of the Information Society with national priorities in this field complying with the strategic goals defined in the frame of the eEurope+ initiative and with the recommendations of the Warsaw Ministerial Conference of May 2000.
Romania’s priorities for the transition to the Information Society are: the modernization of public administration and of public services; improvement of living standards by using information technology in fields like health; the protection of the environment and transports; as well as the development of the information technology sector and a better work force for the Information Society; the adaptation of the educational system and creation of digital content.
For the accomplishment of these objectives, a series of projects with regard to facilitating wide access to the Internet, education, e-commerce, faster access of citizens and companies to the public administration services and speeding up the transition to e-Government are being carried out during 2001-2004, under Governmental co-ordination.
MCTI promoted, beginning in 2001, a legislative package that aimed to establish the legal framework for the development of the Information Society in Romania. Today, the Law regarding the electronic signature, the Law regarding the payment of local taxes using electronic means and the Law regarding public acquisitions through electronic means, as well as the Law on electronic commerce, the Law regarding cyber-crime, the Law on profit tax exemption for hardware production enterprises with sales of over 1 billion USD / year, the Law No. 8/1996 on copyright and Law No. 213/2002 which consolidates the legislative framework for the development of the Information Society in Romania are all in force.
On December 19, 2001, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology organized Expo e-gov, an exhibition presenting sixteen pilot projects implemented in 2001 that provided e-solutions on governmental issues. The projects were meant to create the premises for the development of the Information Society in Romania. The pilot phase of these projects was aiming to demonstrate the viability of the projects’ concepts and the readiness of the Romanian public and businesses to accept online services. The pilot projects were to be extended to regional or national levels after their the evaluation (taking national priorities into consideration) by the Group for Promoting Information Technology. In January 2002, the Romanian Government approved the extension, to the national level, of two of the pilot projects finalized in 2001: the electronic system for public acquisitions and e-tax (electronic tax payment). In the same month, the necessary framework for their deployment was also approved.
Some of the significant developments in e-content could be the following:
E-tax payment: is functional in over 60% of Romanian municipalities. Remote payment instruments started to quickly develop in Romania, and at present 29 such instruments (Internet, home and mobile banking) are present in the market.
2002 was also the year when the first virtual card was launched in Romania, dedicated to online payments.
In 2002, mobile ATM and POS were introduced for the first time. Six of the forty banks operating in Romania are issuing cards, and Romania had the biggest growth rate of VISA credit cards in South Eastern Europe in 2002.
The e-procurement project (Electronic system for public acquisitions), available at www.e-licitatie.ro, is considered essential for developing the institutional capabilities in Romania and for improving the relation between the Government and citizens.
At the beginning of 2003, as part of an anti-corruption Law No. 161/2003, the Government promoted concrete measures to ensure the availability of all public information online and the possibility to provide complex and complete governmental services online. The legal obligations of the central and local public administration authorities are to be established very clearly in order to have a functional system allowing all citizens access to public information and services from filling in different forms to processing them on line.
This is the actual ‘desk reform’, which means that any Romanian citizen will be able to access the Internet, for interacting with the administration. The initiative is meant to improve the access to the information and services of public administration authorities and to simplify bureaucratic procedures by standardizing the methodologies of work.
How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?
Judging from the evolution it has had in the last three years which have been characterized by a high rate of extension, I think e-content will occupy a more and more central role in the life of people. Digital reform started with the administration’s endeavors to provide more transparency through electronic means. Law will ensure that more and more public interest content is made available as e-content.
As an expert in your country, what would be the five most important pillars of e-content development?
The 5 pillars for the development of e-content are:
E-learning: The youth have to have access to digital content, and have to be able to provide and to analyse the existent digital content.
E-government: Wide access to public services has to be provided through electronic means.
E-business: The business sector has to be integrated with the international e-business environment. In order to do so, it has to be able to work with electronic procedures.
E-science: The knowledge based economy is available only if science and knowledge can be produced, shared and properly used by a wider spectrum of the international community. Innovation is a critical factor for the development of human life.
E-culture: Each country has to assure access to the right digital content to all its citizens.
Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?
It would definitely be a combination, in which the Internet is the leader. Even TV, the most popular communication means is migrating to the Internet, where a user can watch any programme at any time.