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Round table: Electronic Document and Electronic Signature: Tools for Good Governance and Transparent Administration
 
April 6, 2004
Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan
Sredets Hall


Summary of discussion

In his opening remarks the CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov underlined the importance of the electronic communications in the modern world as a tool for achieving transparency and curbing corruption in the spheres of business and administration.

The Minister of Justice Mr. Anton Stankov greeted the participants and explained that the wider use of electronic documents would cut the link between parties offering and accepting bribes. He stressed on the fact that the effective introduction of e-government and e-justice would help to alleviate the work of judiciary thus achieving better efficiency and speed in the administration of justice and diminishing the possibilities for corrupt practices.

Mr. Dimitar Kalchev, Minister of State Administration, presented the framework of the e-government and the key documents in the field (the E-Government Strategy and the Plan for the Implementation of the E-Government Strategy) and pointed out the considerable advantages of electronic services as a mechanism for improving the work of administration. He acquainted the participants with the undertaken and forthcoming steps for introducing higher standards in administrative services in the context of successful implementation of the e-government, e.g. the introduction of one stop shop, the increasing number of services accessible via the Internet, the implementation of organizational and technological recommendations focused on the actual needs of the citizens and business. He also underlined the important role of NGOs engaged in the process and the established public-private partnership and expressed special thanks for their active participation.

The Justice from the Supreme Court of Cassation Mr. Borislav Belazelkov presented the legal framework of the electronic documents and electronic signatures in Bulgaria. He pointed out that the adoption of the Law on Electronic Document and Electronic Signature opens a new page in civil procedure by giving e-documents and e-signatures the same status respectively as paper-based documents and hand-written signatures stating they are aimed to raise the security in the civil turnover. He acquainted the participants with the concept elaborated by the CSD Task Force on Registration Reform which envisages transition to a modern centralized electronic registration system and the advantages it would bring to both the business and citizens.

Mr. Kalchev and Mr. Stankov expressed the governmental support for the concept and explained that a decision for its approval and for the creation of a Task Force to elaborate the necessary legislative framework is to be adopted soon by the Council of Ministers.

Prof. Dr. Jos Dumortier from the Interdisciplinary Center for Law and Information Technology at the Faculty of Law of the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium, spoke on the legal framework of the electronic signatures in EU countries. He underlined the importance of an open European market for e-signature products and services and emphasized the necessity of keeping the market and law open for development.

The work of the Interagency Expert Task Force on elaboration of the legal framework for issuance and acceptance of electronic documents, signed with universal electronic signatures, within the judiciary was presented by Mr. Svetozar Tonev, Task Force Coordinator. The legislative amendments to be prepared by the Task Force are aimed at performing and accepting procedural acts in the form of electronic documents signed with universal electronic signatures.

Mr. Ivan Sariev, Director of the Information Technologies Directorate, Ministry of Finance, spoke on electronic services in administrative and economic spheres, such as the electronic data interchange between the Ministry of Finance and the municipalities, in order to improve the communication and raising the efficiency of the work of administration. He also mentioned the introduction of electronic supply system for goods and services below the mandatory public procurement thresholds in order to guarantee better transparency and competitive business environment.

Ms. Doushana Zdravkova, Chair of the Varna District Court, and the Administrative Secretary of the court Mr. Galin Yaroslavov presented the electronic services provided by the court stressing on the much greater speed as their main advantage.

The Central Pledges Register at the Ministry of Justice and the website of the Supreme Administrative Court were also mentioned as good examples for the implementation of information technologies and electronic services.

Dr. Vihar Kiskinov from Sofia University “St. Climent Ohridski” acquainted the participants with the idea for establishing a uniform centralized electronic database, created and maintained by the respective state institutions and comprising all legislative acts, including secondary legislation and case-law.

Mr. Vladislav Slavov, Justice from the Constitutional Court, put for discussion the issue of the Unified Information System for Counteracting Crime, which is expected to bring more speed and efficiency in the work of the administration of justice bodies. He underlined the fact that its fast and successful construction and start of operation together with the introduction of unified statistical report templates would be of great importance for achieving better transparency and quality in the work of judiciary.

Mr. Tonev explained that the construction of the Unified Information System for Counteracting Crime had already started and it would become operational in due time, i.e. by the end of 2004.

Different theoretical and practical aspects of e-government, e-justice and e-business were also considered during the discussion.
 
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