As did Greece, Cyprus accelerated the use of digital services to help deal with the COVID-19 Coronavirus, setting up more online government programs to help the public and businesses caught in the whirlwind.
Deputy Minister of Innovation Kyriacos Kokkinos told CNA that his newly established ministry is focusing on preparations to offer more online services to help through the crisis, reported The Financial Mirror
Kokkinos said adjustments to the action plan have been made since his new Deputy Ministry was established in March due to needs dictated by the crisis and social distancing.
“What we have started to do is to see how by making small steps horizontally in all Ministries, we can automate services and offer them to citizens and the business community,” said Kokkinos.
He said planning was already underway for greater use of digital services but they were speeded up under a lockdown that requires people to stay at home except for going to essential businesses allowed to stay open, the limitations making them go online.
“Priorities have now changed because we need to deliver immediately, to bring it forward, so that we can offer services,” he said, pointing to the example of Citizen Service Centers, where the goal is instead of having 1,000 people per day visiting them, to offer services electronically and reduce that number to 100 to 200 visits per day.
There are other government departments in need of a digital upgrade such as the Registrar of Companies, the Town Planning and Housing Department and the Land Registry which many businesses are required to visit.
“We have started to put down in writing which things should or could be digitalised so that the public and business community can be offered services electronically.”
A necessary prerequisite according to Kokkinos is the electronic signature, which is expected to be implemented quicker than its planned introduction in January 2021.
In many cases, digitization of procedures will also mean the need for simplification, that equates with reducing red tape. “This is our priority right now,” he said.
“This crisis, although terrible, has made us review our thinking and take steps which we should have possibly started or even completed earlier…it has now become imperative to do them,” said Kokkinos.