Greece hopes to tackle the notorious bureaucracy of the country’s public services through the recovery plan ”Greece 2.0”, which focuses on digitization.
It is estimated that Greeks have saved 75,000 hours that would have been spent waiting at public offices between last summer and March 2021 thanks to the digitization of public services.
According to the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance, the digitization of various sectors, including health, justice, town planning, land registry, and immigration, as well as their integration into respective information systems, is one of the four pillars of the National Recovery Plan.
Greece has long been known to have an extraordinarily complex, paper-based bureaucratic system, one that many felt was overly-complicated and even lent itself to corruption.
New steps to digitize many aspects of bureaucracy in Greece have helped reduce wait times and make life easier for many citizens of the country. Additionally, Greeks seem to view the process as more transparent and less prone to corruption.
The web portal of the Greek state gov.gr has significantly simplified bureaucratic processes such as the issuance of various certificates, as now people can request certain forms from the comfort of their own homes.
The digital transition has also made the lives of workers in the public sector much easier, as they can now focus on major issues rather than on the issuance of minor forms and paperwork.
Greece’s National Recovery and Sustainability Plan tackles bureaucracy
According to the Greek government, the primary goal of the country’s Recovery Plan is to fill the large gap in investment, national product and employment — an endemic gap in the performance of the Greek economy over the last decade — which has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan aims to mobilize significant forces from the private sector, boosting private investment and using Public-Private Partnerships and Energy Service Companies to make significant public investment efforts.
It also aspires to create 200,000 jobs and increase the country’s GDP by 7.0 points in the next six years.
The Ministry of Digital Governance has created a list with 455 digital transformation projects that will be implemented by 2025.
A total of 105 projects are currently in progress, whereas others have already been used by the general public over the past few months.
Digitization benefits the health sector in Greece
The digital transition has been particularly beneficial for the health sector as it gave health professionals the chance to issue prescriptions online.
Doctors have praised the digitization effort, as it has allowed them to issue prescriptions digitally and has enabled patients to easily book appointments from home.
Greece’s vaccination platform, widely used by the public to book appointments for their shots, was the product of this effort to digitize Greek bureaucracy.
”This is the greatest reform carried out by our Ministry so far”, the Greek Minister of Digital Governance, Kyriakos Pierakakis said Friday. ”Our progress was even more obvious after our vaccination platforms opened to the public.”
Challenges while tackling bureaucracy
Despite the obvious benefits, a lot of people still remain skeptical.
Many senior citizens are not familiar with modern technologies and cannot access the respective platforms to make appointments or request certificates, whereas others are not even informed about this option.
According to Kyriakos Pierrakakis, ”Digital services should be as simple and accessible as possible. The Greek Government is going to organize upskilling courses for specific age groups to make sure that all citizens have the necessary skills and knowledge to access our platforms.
“In any case, our goal is to meet the needs of all Greek citizens, so physical Citizen Service Centers are still going to be open to assist people who prefer to go on site.”