The coronavirus pandemic acted both as a curse and a blessing in Cyprus, forcing the authorities to move with unprecedented time frames to promote digital transformation, Deputy Minster for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriacos Kokkinos has said.
Speaking during a teleconference titled “the pandemic outbreak as springboard to digital transformation” hosted by the JCI-Junior Chamber International Cyprus, Kokkinos said that the pandemic is both a curse but also positive as it prompted the authorities to promote digital transformation projects which otherwise would require long time to take place.
“Covd-19 acted as a digital transformation enabler” Kokkinos said, noting that the Deputy Ministry followed a more agile approach, focusing an “small sprints” instead of pushing for larger projects.
“We left larger projects running and through a more agile approach with small steps which serve our needs which may have emerged from the coronavirus outbreak but will remain in our lives long after the pandemic,” he added referring to changes such as working from home, distant learning for public schools and electronic interactions between the state and the public.
He referred to the Ministry of Labour’s web-based platform which had to set up and running in just 15 days in a bid to enable payments to some 200,000 employees who stayed at home due to lockdown and business operation suspensions imposed by the Cypriot authorities in a bid to contain the spread of virus.
“We designed the system in just two weeks, which is unprecedented (for Cyprus standards)” he added, pointing out that if the system had been established in the traditional way the allowances would need ten months to be paid.
E-justice “a child of the pandemic”
According to Kokkinos, the same approach was followed in the case of e-justice. The Dep Ministry opted to keep the wider project, launched in 2017, running, focusing in pushing for smaller projects such as electronic filing of cases and of appeals, payments or even court hearings by teleconference, a plan which the Justice Minister warmly endorsed.
“We are designing a smaller project with a three-year life cycle which will be incorporated in the wider e-justice project,” he added, noting the e-justice is classified as project of high complexity and high impact.
Moreover, he pointed out that e-justice is high among the Dep. Ministry’s digital transformation list of digital transformation priorities such as web-based services in Town Planning Department, the Land Registry, digital National Guard conscription and pupil digital registration.
“E-justice is high among our priorities. We hope by September or October to provide this project to the legal community,” Kokkinos went on to say.
Furthermore, Kokkinos said that he told the President of the Republic is time for Cyprus to institutionalise working from home in the public service as was the case during the two-month lockdown imposed in Cyprus.
“It is indeed primitive for a civil servant to go to his office in the morning to punch his card and to punch it again in 14:30 to receive is salary, like in production factory,” he said
Concluding, Kokkinos said we should enable both public and private employees to work from home, if necessary, by providing the necessary legal framework and system of governance.