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PM Marković at virtual AmCham meeting: digital transformation is currently top priority

PM Marković at virtual AmCham meeting: digital transformation is currently top priority
Published date: 05.06.2020 17:52 | Author: PR Service

Ispis Print

Prime Minister Duško Marković said today that the past period in which the whole world was facing a coronavirus pandemic has shown that many jobs can be done online or from home and that digital transformation is currently the top priority.

"This scourge that has befallen us has shown that we must change our traditional habits, that we must change our approach, that we must develop our society, that we must overcome assumptions for faster decision-making without spending time and money, and indeed digital transformation is top priority at this moment"- said the Prime Minister in a conversation "Openly with the Prime Minister", which is traditionally organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro.

In this context, the Prime Minister reminded of the cases in which the coronavirus pandemic accelerated some digitization processes and contributed to changing habits and understanding of our capabilities.

"This situation has led us to think differently and not only think but also work, as well as to recognise our abilities that we were not aware of until now. I remember the moment when I talked to the Minister of Education that it is necessary to organise online classes for our students to keep them in touch with professors and their subjects. There was serious skepticism. But we saw that those classes were organised very quickly in a high-quality way. Of course, the scope of this approach is not fully provided but the goal has been achieved. The students were in contact with their teachers and their subjects, through that process the level of information and digital education was raised and I believe that we will have strong benefits in the future. Even I did very important state affairs for two and a half months from home, those jobs that I thought could not be done outside the office and meetings with all those who participate in the creation of state policy. It turned out that it was not a handicap but, on the contrary, a quality and a new value that strengthened not only the institutions but also the individuals in the institutions. So, we came to the situation that our valuable and capable individuals who could not be present at the meetings with the Prime Minister and his team, and institutionally did very important work for the state, got the opportunity," said the Prime Minister.

As special achievements, the Prime Minister reminded that digitalization in medicine has been present for ten years, that the telemedicine project is functioning in three hospitals – Bar, Berane and Pljevlja, and that one of the results is better and quality health service for citizens. He also said that the new solutions will enable progress in the field of sustainable development, so that inspectors will have a better, faster and quality insight into all the necessary documents in order to act in the field, primarily in preventing illegal construction.

Development of the Digital Transformation Strategy is key this year

The Prime Minister assessed that the most important step in the field of digitalization is the adoption of the Digital Transformation Strategy as a key document this year.

The Prime Minister said that all interested factors, especially representatives of the business community, will be included in the preparation of that document through the Working Group, in order to reach the strategic document of highest-quality.

"I agree with the need to form an advisory body that would implement the Strategy and goals of digital transformation that you initiated, together with the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Foreign Investors and the Association of Managers," said the Prime Minister.

Support to the domestic IT sector 

Answering the question of Executive Director of AmCham Montenegro Marko Miročević about the measures of the Government's support to the domestic IT sector, the Prime Minister pointed to the fact that the IT industry in Montenegro is insufficiently promoted and developed, having in mind its role in digital transformation processes, which is an imperative for the development of society.

"Within the proposal for the third package of measures, the Ministry of Science has especially focused on encouraging and supporting this industry. I believe that through the entire package of measures we will find mechanisms for faster development of the IT industry in Montenegro. It is possible that we will talk about this in the coming days. Will we be able to reduce the tax burden and even the workload of employees in this sector and in other sectors this year - I am afraid we will not," said the Prime Minister. He added that our country is in a specific situation where the priorities are the payment of salaries, pensions and social benefits, but also the continuation of financing development projects and the creation of preconditions for new development. "This situation does not give us enough space at this moment to think in this way that you spoke about. But incentives and subsidies are quite certain and I believe that we will create them," said PM Marković.

Coronavirus and tourism

US Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Rising Reinke also took part in the conversation, congratulating the Prime Minister on the excellent results of the coronavirus crisis management. 

"Please allow me to express my sincere congratulations and appreciation to the Prime Minister for the exceptional manner in which the Montenegrin government and the Montenegrin people handled the coronavirus pandemic. As the first COVID-19 free country in Europe, Montenegro clearly demonstrated leadership and responsible governance in times of crisis. … If we think back to a time before COVID-19, you may remember that AmCham presented the findings of its Business Climate Report at last year’s event. On that day, we discussed many positive trends, as well as areas for improvement. From my personal discussions with the Prime Minister, I can attest that he and the Government of Montenegro have tackled numerous challenges and initiated a number of important projects – including exploring ways to diversify the economy, supporting small and medium enterprises, and continuing to develop the country’s infrastructure – that will bring tremendous benefits to Montenegro. Now, even bigger challenges lie ahead that will require our collective energy, creativity, and diligence. As we have all heard many times over the past few months, zajedno smo jači – together we are stronger. Today and going forward, we must continue to support one another as a community," said Ambassador Rising Reinke.

Asked about the upcoming tourist season, Prime Minister Duško Marković said that the whole situation was worrying and that it was a big blow to our economy.

"Countries are still keeping their borders closed. There is an individual opening without wider and greater possibilities. There is no coordinated and harmonised approach when it comes to the European Union or within the EU, and especially in relation to third countries. So at the moment the result that Montenegro has as the first and only Corona Free destination does not give us good hopes that tourism has a chance this year. But we will not give up. By preserving this epidemiological situation, we will create preconditions for the beginning of the tourist season and the best possible valorisation of our tourist potential. The state is ready and has done everything in its power: We have defended ourselves from the virus, we have protected our citizens and opened borders to all countries whose epidemiological criteria are similar to ours. At this moment, on this day, Montenegro has opened its borders with 131 countries" – said the Prime Minister, adding that there is great interest in holidays in Montenegro and that our tourism economy is ready, but everything does not depend on us.

He added that the third package of measures, prepared by the Government, will define support for our tourism economy through various models: about EUR 70 million will be withdrawn from the Council of Europe Development Bank and directed for lending to companies in tourism and other sectors through commercial banks and Investment Development Fund.

"At the same time, we have provided EUR 50 million as a guarantee for banks so that they can borrow from credit institutions to support our economy. That is about EUR 120 million of support. We believe that, according to our estimates, commercial banks will opt for around EUR 100 million. That is EUR 220 million. In the budget, we have provided EUR eight million for interest rate subsidies for loans to the tourism industry. So, the state has done everything it can, the tourism economy is ready for the tourist season, hoteliers and private accommodation are ready, and the rest does not depend on us" – said the Prime Minister during "Openly with the Prime Minister" organised by the American Chamber of Commerce.