By Chino S. Leyco
Companies that transformed the northern European country of Estonia into the world’s most advanced digital society have expressed interest in developing the Philippines’ national identification (ID) system and explore other opportunities in evolving technology-driven industries.
Estonia’s ambassador-designate to the Philippines Vaino Reinart relayed this message to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during a recent meeting in Manila, accompanied by Director Marki Tihhonova-Kreek of the Estonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of Estonian companies involved in developing Estonia’s electronic governance system.
“We are aware that the Philippines is about to implement the digital ID and provide their citizens with this,” Reinart said. “It is indeed a good time to come here and demonstrate what you could possibly be able to implement provided the digital ID is properly secured in place.”
Dominguez, in turn, welcomed Estonia’s interest in the Philippines and invited Estonian companies to participate in the bidding for the national ID system contract.
“Our number one interest right now is the national ID, and we are going to be putting out the international tender docs pretty soon,” Dominguez said during the meeting.
Dominguez said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been assisting the Philippine government through a policy-based loan program to provide support for the implementation of the national ID system.
Dominguez said that on top of exploring business partnerships here, Estonia can also tap the Philippines’ young, skilled workers who are quick learners, fluent in English and can easily adapt to Estonia’s high-tech work environment.
With the average age of Estonia’s labor force of 41 years old, Dominguez said the Philippines can complement this with its young work force whose average age is 23.
As an example, Dominguez said the Philippines has Japan as its demographic partner in Asia, with the average age of Japanese workers in the late 40’s complementing the Philippines’ young and talented labor force.
“We would like to encourage you to look at us as potentially your demographic partners here. I think Filipinos around the world have a relatively good reputation,” Dominguez said to the visiting Estonian delegation.
Also at the meeting were Jana Silaskova of the Estonia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Madis Sassiad of GoSwift, Raul Kaidro of RaulWalters, Rein Haavel of Cybernetica, Dr. Aleksander Reitsakas of Aktors, and Linnea Parnaste-Virve of Ecomatic.
In the Baltic nation of Estonia, where the electronic video communications tool Skype was developed, 99 percent of public services are available digitally, including the filing and payment of taxes.
Ambassador Reinart said the representatives of Estonian companies present at the meeting were looking at “partnerships they would wish to establish here in the Philippines,” and “opportunities and partnerships with relevant institutions and businesses here.”