other countries in the region, Hungary has inherited an unwieldy system
of local and national bureaucracy which means that relatively
straightforward operations such as registering one’s address can
involve queuing for hours at several different offices (or paying
someone else to do it for you). This is, in fact, a Central European
tradition that pre-dates the Communist takeover. It remains a common
complaint of business lobbying groups that such unwieldy paper
shuffling systems stifle business and reduce transparency, which leads
to inefficiency and encourages corruption.
outlining the group’s opinions about what the Hungarian government
should do to address the above problems. It is the latest in a series
of such position briefs that, previously, have dealt with issues such
as the tax system and education. The full title is E-Government as a
pillar of Hungarian National Competitiveness – competition is the
out of Hungary has been widely reported, with the heavy tax burden
often cited as a reason. AmCham also believes that the
business-unfriendly bureaucracy is also to blame for Hungary’s
plummeting competitive position on the world stage. (In the latest
Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum, Hungarian
had fallen from 35th to 41st place, putting it well behind neighbouring
Slovakia, Slovenia and Austria).
and administration such as tax and land registry are computerised so
that they can be accessed over the internet and communicate more
effectively with one another and with citizens and businesses.
According to the AmCham paper, e-government developments so far in
Hungary have been driven by EU requirements rather than “a desire to
address the genuine needs of citizens”. Most local authorities have
websites, and tax authority APEH has limited internet-based system for
filing tax returns, but much of the country’s bureaucracy is still
broken up into closed units. Filling out forms and queuing is still
very much part of private and business life in Hungary.
increasing its accessibility. “Why must I provide a declaration that my
company has no tax debt?” he asked. “If someone needs to know, why can
they not just [log on] to the tax authority’s database and check?”
The AmCham paper recommends discounts from government institutions from
clients who choose to administer their affairs electronically.
Institute (SZTAKI) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, opined that
Hungary’s failure to more quickly instigate e-government systems is not
the result of a lack of funds. One problem, he said, is lobbying from
the legal profession. Notaries Public, for example, make good money
rubber stamping sample signature documents and so on. Many such
services may no longer be necessary in an electronic bureaucracy.