Monday, April 27, 2009

Questions European tax payers should ask

We are at critical point in our economy - businesses are struggling,  public debt is soaring, many banks need support,tax increases are threatening, unemployment is on the rise, budget cuts eat into product development and innovations - just to mention a few.

But even worse problems are waiting around the corner - aging population, smaller workforce, low productivity (as a result of today's low innovation appetite) and a massive public debt to serve (we have borrowed in our childrens' name - too often not to renew but to preserve old politically correct structures..)

Knowing that only successful enterprises can make the tide turn it is time for today's and especially tomorrow's tax payers to start asking questions - like:

1. Is your government helping SMEs to cut costs and improve their services? Today this means digitilizing away routines and digitalizing up services. The most important routine is invoicing and e-invoicing serves both purposes. How big is the cost saving potential in your country if it is estimated to 2,8 billions for b2b in Finland (population 5,3m)?

2. When will your government implement the EU directive for equal treatment of paper and electronic invoicing? Paving the way also for pan-european services and easier access to new markets for domestic enterprises.

3. Is your government in favour of public-private partnerships? Using private sector e-tools for public sector needs. A prime example here is e-id - in many countries it already possible to log in to public sector services also with bank login passwords. This obviously saves tax payers' money massively and speeds up adoption of e-services as these tools are trusted, often used and thus familiar. What could be a reason for not making this move in your country?

4. Is your goverment in favour of transparent pricing - charging for costs itself with modern cost-efficient e-payment and e-invoicing - instead of through taxation. Letting the citizens make logical choices in their own interest.

5. Is your government helping consumer organizations to understand that charging visibly for example for paper invoices is in the interest of both consumers and the environment.

6. Has your government sector and your municipality set a deadline for incoming paper or otherwise unstructured invoices? How much would the saving be if these cost 20€ more to process than the modern alternative?

But maybe your government is ready to make all these moves - but the banking sector is not? So you should ask the banks - collectively - as this is a network business:

1. do you offer e-invoicing as service - together (a network of one or a few does not work) - b2b and b2c - preferably with the same tool?

2. have you offered the public sector e-id services?

3. is it possible to sign loan agreements with e-bank log-in codes?

4. is it possible to use the same loan-signing tool also for 3rd party agreements?

5. have you offered the public sector e-payments as cost-efficient charging tool for public sector services

6. are you offering e-salary services - bringing the salary statement to the e-bank?

Many bank communities have come together to do this already - but too many have still not moved into 3rd generation e-banking. Now it is time to mobilize the finance sector - extended payments tools are a must-have in the networked economy.

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