ICT Might Soon Turn Into a Development Driving Sector

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Information and communication technology to spur development in Croatia?

Will information and communication technology (ICT), one of the most propulsive and most competitive Croatian sectors, finally receive the well-deserved attention and support from the government in order to push the country in the right direction? Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković has taken the first step when he met with the delegation of Croatian employers, including representatives of the ICT group attached to HUP (Croatian Employers Association) and representatives of the two leading telecoms – HT and Vipnet. Prime Minister’s focus was on ICT, and the impressions from the meeting were very favourable. “The government is focused on the economy, so ICT finally has a chance to establish itself within that concept as a leading sector in development”, said Adrian Ježina, president of the HUP ICT and a member of VIP’s Board of Directors, reports Večernji List on March 5, 2016.

“Unfortunately, ICT was never recognized as a strategic sector in Croatia. We now feel encouraged and believe that this will change. We are especially encouraged by the PM’s experience and his focus on ICT when it comes to public administration and economic development”, said Boris Drilo, strategy director at HT.
They informed the PM about the status of ICT and about the causes affecting the ICT growth. Despite the fact that the software export and IT services grew 40 percent last year, this is not fast enough because others are outpacing Croatia. The country is not using the advantages of digital economy and is losing about 300 million euros annually, although it has access to over 200 million euros via the EU accession and structure funds, which can be used in the short term through specific projects, the representatives of the ICT sector said. For this to happen, a partnership between the state and the private sector is needed. The state must not compete with the private sector in ICT and telecommunications, and it should not undertake development projects, as the private sector is more efficient and more competitive.

“Investing in ICT is one of the measures that should produce the fastest effects. The period between the start of the project and its implementation is up to 12 months, but not more than 18 months on average. “These projects have an almost immediate effect on employment, and not only on the employment of the highly educated workers but also of those less educated, especially in the area of broadband internet access construction”, Drilo said.

The ICT representatives have also expressed an objection, as they were not happy with the government’s decision regarding the implementation of the public administration reforms that will require the formation of the ICT commission as a temporary work group. They say this is reminiscent of some previous attempts where there was no space for the private sector. “We have asked them to find a model that would let private sector enter the bodies of the executive power, but not only on paper, so that we could make Croatia the leader in the region in the ICT area. This has been met with understanding from the PM and the deputy PM”, Drilo said.


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