Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Digital Croatia Finally Arrives for Company Founders: Meet Start.Gov.Hr

The user of this, the currently most advanced public service so far in Croatia receives accurate documentation from public registers. Meet Start.gov.hr, the first real step into Croatia's desperately needed digital transformation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes on the 2nd of December, 2019, Start.gov.hr, a new digital service launched by the Ministry of Economy to help people start a business, is designed to support as many as 200,000 users.

It has been available for public since the 1st of December, 2019, and it remains to be seen how many of the otherwise 15,000 new Croatian companies will choose to use this new service annually. It is currently Croatia's most advanced public service, integrating numerous partners, databases and registers, so it will only take two to three days to start a new business, as opposed to waiting in line after line and being asked for things which can only be described as insane by pan-faced state employees. At this stage, only what are known as ''physical'' persons from Croatia can use the service, but in 2020, it is expected that foreign company founders will also be able to utilise it.

IT solutions for Start.gov.hr have been developed by Fina and will maintain and develop a system whose benefits for the founders of small companies are enormous. In addition to being fast and significantly shortening the average of about 25 days to register a company, as well as skipping numerous visits to notaries, just one entry and one step is required. The e-citizen (e-građanin) system is accessed by the user themselves (there's no power of attorney) with a Level 4 credential to authenticate the certificate. Stepping into creating your own business now means merely filling out a unique online form that takes up to half an hour to complete.

What Start.gov.hr's form is, is a type of registry with the name of the company (there is a search engine to see what is taken and what isn't), activities and the TC amount, and a set of statements, one of which needs to be able to show the absence of any debts to the state. Specifically, the tax debt check is left for the first phase of the upgrade. For everything that follows and what sets the Start.gov.hr system apart from the rest of the market and from Hitro.hr, is that the user receives accurate and standardised documentation from public registers. This is an result of the interconnectedness of the relevant institutions, and the startup business is simplified.

After the application is completed, from the next click, everything is done by partner institutions, ie, for the first time all stakeholders are integrated, from the CBS, to the Tax Administration and HZMO onwards, in total there are about 10 institutions which are all connected. The cost is minimal and excluding the share capital payment (TC), the startup fee is 30 kuna for a simple d.o.o., 200 kuna for a normal d.o.o. and 250 kuna for an obrt. In order to reduce the possibility of errors, all fields filled in by the user, along with the instructions, have logical controls, and in order not to enter information for other persons there are ample security settings.

In the case of more than one founder, they receive a message from one that the documentation has been prepared and an invitation to sign a social contract with their OIB and to pay the TC. For this, a special account is opened to which the money is paid via credit or debit card (Visa, Maestro and Mastercard). The transfer of money will go to the transaction account as soon as it is opened, which is already possible with PBZ and Erste Bank, and according to announcements, will also soon be available with RBA, Addiko Bank and Zagrebačka banka.

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Sunday, 20 October 2019

Zagreb Holding Hopes Digitisation Will Give Service Users Better Experience

As Novac/Matija Boltizar writes on the 17th of October, 2019, Zagreb Holding is generally perceived by the public only through the services provided by that company. First and foremost, these are the collection and disposal of household waste, followed by the supply of drinking water and drainage, the distribution and the supply of gas, and the maintenance of the roads and public green spaces.

That being said, Zagreb Holding also deals with less well-known services such as holiday arrangements for children and young people and pharmacy services, but what few people may know is that this company has a specific corporate governance structure.

Zagreb Holding is a publicly owned company, 100 percent owned by the City of Zagreb, which is also the sole founder of the company. It has fourteen subsidiaries, owns eight companies and one institution, has about 7,700 employees, more than one million users and is, in terms of number and type of services, a truly unique company in Croatia.

Running such a corporation has many challenges, the biggest of which is balancing financial profitability with providing complete and equal service to all of Zagreb's citizens. What corporate governance looks like in one such company, Ana Stojić Deban, the President of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding, explained in an interview.

''Zagreb Holding operates in the public interest and, unlike the private sector, the primary objective of the business is to achieve the financial and non-financial goals and interests of the wider community. Regardless of the ownership structure, corporate governance should certainly ensure a balance between the financial and strategic goals of the company and the business based on the principles of sustainable development, which, depending on the sector of business of the company, best contributes to the development of the local and general social community,'' stated Stojić Deban. She also noted that special attention is paid to business transparency.

Among other things, all information about Zagreb Holding's work is publicly available on the company's website. The basic document in this segment of their work is the Corporate Governance Code. Its purpose is to establish, maintain and develop high standards of corporate governance and transparent business operations. The company also applies a strict Code of Ethics. Zagreb Holding also has a dual corporate governance model that is typical of all companies within that group.

Considering that a large number of activities are performed as a public service, Stojić Deban points out that there is no possibility for any type of different organisation, that is, of changing the ownership structure of the company.

''It should be noted that most of our services are in the category of services of general economic interest, which aren't performed for profit but to ensure the delivery of these services to end users in an efficient, economical and purposeful manner, at the lowest cost to the customers. In order to ensure a balanced development of the city and accessibility of services to all categories of users, investing in the city's infrastructure is crucial for our business, with which decisions on obtaining capital are inevitably connected,'' explained Deban Stojić, noting that Zagreb Holding has, in the last two years alone, realised a massive 1 billion kuna of investments and 323 million kuna of investments in public buildings.

Due to the nature of its business, Zagreb Holding is exposed to various types of environmental, social and management risks.

''These have multiple impacts on the business - there are factors that can be influenced and/or predicted, and there are also those that cannot be influenced. Managing risks is the responsibility of the Board. In principle, we can't influence regulatory changes, but the potential to nullify negative financial consequences lies primarily in the conversational corporate governance and use of synergy of the group, both operationally and financially,'' emphasised the President of the Management Board.

In addition to transparency, Zagreb Holding pays great attention to communication. In addition to regular communication with investors and employees, Zagreb Holding assures its customers the availability of all services and related information 24 hours a day.

An important role is played by the company's call centre. Users can call just one number at any time to inquire about all of Holding's services, instead of needing to find and call twenty of them. There are also customer centres and a mobile office - a specialised vehicle that allows citizens to contract services from the Zagreb Holding portfolio almost on their own doorstep.

Communication via Internet services, numerous public forums, educational activities, free guides and leaflets should also be mentioned.

Speaking of the future of the business, Deban Stojić says that development plans are related to the interests primarily of the users of their services and the employees themselves.

''These are processes that are carried out on a continuous basis with the aim of fulfilling the basic task of Zagreb Holding - the efficient and lasting provision of services of public interest with maximum environmental protection and protection of the interests of the local community. In addition, business digitalisation enables us to tailor our services to the needs of our customers and these are the processes that will characterise Zagreb Holding's business in the future as well,'' concluded Deban Stojić.

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Croatian City Following Digital Estonia and Denmark's Fine Example

How can not only the budget but the administrative mess in Croatia be overturned and managed rationally and sparingly so that it works for everyone, without us having to go to Estonia or Denmark? Believe it or not, there are some good examples in our own backyard. One Croatian city in particular is leading the way to change that is so desperately needed in this paperwork, tax stamp and queue loving little country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of October, 2019, the continental Croatian city of Bjelovar saved one and a half million on the salaries of its employees last year, and they plan to save a further 2.5 million kuna this year.

We've rrpoted on Bjelovar's impressive and encouraging digital moves several times before, and now they are also working on the full digitisation of the city administration, making it the first Croatian paperless city. This small Croatian city also has a plan to make all entrepreneurs totally exempt from all taxes, levies and contributions, so as to encourage more people in that direction. Mayor Dario Hrebak, revealed to RTL Direkt the secret of the successful functioning of something that the majority in draconian Croatia cannot begin to comprehend.

"We reduced the wage bill by 1,150 million kuna. Today, there are ten less people working because they've retired. We digitised fifteen workflows, and we're planning for eighty. So, we balanced the work out with the people who stayed. We saved 1.5 million kuna. Maybe ten employees doesn't sound like much, but that's more than 10 percent in our city administration,'' explained Mayor Hrebak.

He added that in the City of Bjelovar they want to do more with the same amount of money because the modern economy cannot be based on such old and outdates systems. Ironically the ones Croatia loves and masochistically clings to so much despite all.

"People in Croatia have a wrong perception of digitisation. How much you save on toner and paper. We want to rationalise it all, we're standardising the processes. We've introduced an e-newborn system so that when a child is born, an e-citizen can collect all the documents and send them digitally to the city government,'' the mayor said. Such a move might not sound like much to those outside of Croatia, where the majority of paperwork is done online, but in the land of lining up for hours to be abused by an uljhe... sorry, I mean ''civil servant'', and told you're missing meaningless papers, this is a revalation.

Several similar processes are planned by the end of the year, which include enrolling children in kindergartens or applying for grants. Entrepreneurs will also be able to look online at the status of a building permit or similar permits for which they have applied.

"In Croatia, everyone wants to solve the problems that have been piling up for thirty years overnight. In Bjelovar in particular, for eighteen years, nobody dared to touch the surtax. Nothing gets altered overnight. We have now taken it down by 25 percent, by the end of our term, we will have no surtax in the city,'' Hrebak told RTL Direkt proudly.

He said that everyone needed the political will to see this through. He believes that total transparency is important and that every citizen must know where each kuna from the city goes. He added that politicians today have no vision and plan everything for one term, while he intends to hold at least two terms in office in this small but smart Croatian city.

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Saturday, 3 August 2019

Zagreb Presents Paperless Digital Project for Conducting Financial Business

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of August, 2019, the e-Financial Management project in the City of Zagreb has implemented its new paperless financial management process, with 12,500 city associates now issuing e-invoices more quickly and cheaper, with the added ability to monitor those invoices.

Digitising the City of Zagreb's financial operations has simplified its administrative process, increased its efficiency, and reduced general costs and processing times, said Miro Laco from the mayor's office.

It is, as he explained, a key city process involving more than 600 employees from all of the city's 25 governing bodies. The process is fully digitised for e-invoices, paper bills, and internal payment documents.

"The process itself has been significantly improved as the number of process activities has been reduced by 46 percent, and the process of digitising electronic bills takes just a few clicks," said Laco.

Considering the fact that there are 190,000 transactions which take place per year, or more than 70,000 accounts, with 15,000 internal documents printed so far and 105,000 transfers to budget users, we can say that through financial savings of about two million kuna a year and through a conscientious attitude towards the environment, we're operating in a correct manner,'' Laco added.

The digitalisation of financial operations in Zagreb simplifies the control and verification of accounts, as well as the creation of payment orders and the process of paying to accounts.

The main stakeholders in the digitisation of the City of Zagreb's financial business are the IT companies Apis IT and Omega Software, which have adapted their existing application solutions, and the information broker, a company called Electronic Accounts.

With numerous online services now available from the City of Zagreb, eFinancial business is a continuation of the process of digitisation the administration will continue to work intensively on it, Laco said.

"It's of primary importance that we want to have not only a smart Zagreb, but to make sure Zagreb is a city of happy people and entrepreneurs who can we shorten these administrative difficulties for, and help them to concentrate on the efficiency of their business. This enables management in accounting and allows us to know every single moment of where the process is and how we can intervene as needed,'' Deputy Mayor Olivera Majić said.

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has announced that he will soon launch the e-Permit e-service, which will serve, among other things, construction and issuing of permits for that field where many people come unstuck with ridiculous waiting times.

"We're left with two fundamental tasks - to be a true service to the citizens and to be a true logistics service to entrepreneurs," he said.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow or check out Zagreb in a Page.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Digital Croatia: Best Large ''Digital'' Cities Zagreb and Rijeka

Just how close are we to a real digital Croatia? The answer is unclear and as varied as ever, but some Croatian cities have shown promise with some rather impressive and encouraging results.

As Novac/Gradonacelnik.hr writes on the 23rd of April, 2019, although more and more cities are gradually digitising their business and investing in smart city solutions, and some of the most advanced have almost completely switched to doing solely digital business, generally speaking, Croatian cities are only in the very early stages of the much needed digital transition, just as Croatia is, as a country, at the very bottom in Europe in terms of the digital readiness of general society and the economy.

As the methodology for ranking cities in terms of digital readiness is only at its very beginning even at the European level, stories and analysis of the "smart city" concept development here in Croatia are still very much based on individual experiences, examples and projects.

That is why, in order to gain a real elementary insight into the digitalisation of Croatia's services and the communication of the country's many city administrations with citizens, experts from Apsolon, a consulting company specialising in digital business development, has undertaken the very first major study of the ''digital readiness'' of twenty of the largest cities across Croatia. This study, according to project manager and smart management director at Apsolon, Ivana Novoselec, is the basis for the further development of research tools and methodology that will track the development and progress of Croatia's cities on an annual basis.

In its study, Apsolon divided the cities into three categories - large (Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek), middle (Zadar, Velika Gorica, Slavonski Brod, Pula and Karlovac) and smaller cities (Sisak, Varaždin, Šibenik, Dubrovnik, Bjelovar, Kaštela, Samobor, Vinkovci, Koprivnica, Đakovo, Vukovar.)

The digital readiness index at Apsolon was set based on several criteria - the availability of e-services (the number of administrative services and their digitalisation rate in Croatia), the availability of site service information and the development of unified services for making payments in the city, then came the availability of city data, the level of citizen participation in decision making and communication channels between the city administration and citizens, ie, the availability of data and time in which citizens receive answers to their various questions. At this stage, Apsolon hasn't entered into the internal processes in Croatia's city administrations, but rather focused on what services are offered to the city's citizens and how long such things typically take.

After this type of indexing and ranking, the title of the ''digitisation champion'' among the Croatian cities was awarded to the City of Rijeka, thus confirming its status as the best city in the Smart City category which it won last year. Apsolon pointed out that the City of Rijeka has achieved the greatest advances in the systematic raising of the quality of its services, but also the opening of data and communication channels to citizens.

"Rijeka as the most advanced city in Croatia in terms of digitisation and is characterised in particular by the emphasis on openness and communication with its citizens. Its administration is oriented towards clear communication (a very clear centralised e-services approach with well-organised access to all automated services and available forms), openness and participatory management," said project manager Ivana Novoselac.

In many categories, especially those relating to the functional aspects of digitisation (advanced digital services, e-citizen connectivity, etc.), Rijeka is followed closely by the City of Zagreb.

The city of Pula is the most advanced middle-size city in Croatia, which also presents its services and available information to its citizens in a systematic and very detailed way, raising standards in terms of transparency and interaction with citizens, and is certainly a champion among cities with between 50.000 and 100.000 inhabitants.

In relation to the criteria relating to specific functional and technological solutions, Karlovac, Velika Gorica and Zadar follow. For the City of Karlovac the large number of available administrative procedures on its website and responses to citizens' inquiries are generally quick made it stand out from the crowd.

Among the small cities in Croatia, there is no distinctly dominant digital champion, but according to research findings in different aspects of digitisation, Dubrovnik, Samobor, Sisak, Koprivnica and Varaždin appear to be the most successful ones, according to this research. Among the prominent representatives of this category, Dubrovnik is strategically trying to profile as Smart City and has a high quality City Card, e-Visitor platform, is very active on social networks and it continuing to develop innovative application solutions. When it comes to the number of digitally available services, Koprivnica ranks above all.

Samobor, which is particularly active on social networks and is the category winner for social networking, has a very comprehensive and interactive website which separates the site accordingly and has adjusted all of the information for citizens and for visitors, as well as separating foreign visitors from domestic ones.

It should also be noted that Bjelovar is extremely proactive in the field of the digitalisation of its administration, it is working on applicative transparency solutions as well as on internal digitalisation processes. What is particularly commendable is Bjelovar's focus on the digitalisation of its internal processes.

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Click here for the original article by Novac/Jutarnji/Gradonacelnik.hr

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