A decree which is supposed to considerable shorten the mandatory periods of keeping documents is being prepared, which means that companies will no longer be obliged to keep their financial reports for 20 years and their invoices for a decade.
The period of keeping documents will also be harmonized with validity periods, which should eliminate situations in which, for example, a document is being kept for three years, although its validity period is only one year, Blic reports.
It is not yet known, however, what the new deadline periods will be, but they are sure to be shortened.
Around 80% of information is still kept as hard copy by state institutions and business sectors throughout the world, and the percentage in Serbia is as much as 93%.
The obligation of keeping paper documentation archives in Serbia is proscribed for a period of two to 70 years or permanently, which inevitable leads to big expenses. This problem is faced by big companies, state institutions, small and medium companies, entrepreneurs, banks, stores...
– Companies are obliged to keep a financial report for 20 years, which is meaningless, because, as soon as they submit it to the Business Registers Agency, it is stored there, and there’s no need for it to be kept in two different places. An invoice must be kept for 10 years. If there was a system in the Tax Administration within which all the invoices would be registered, the situation would be identical to that concerning financial reports – says Ivan Radak from the NALED.
The same problem is present in the construction sector, where location requirement as a document need to be kept for three years, whereas the validity period is one year, to use just one paradoxical example.
Furthermore, all files in the field of construction are kept permanently, although not all documents within a project have the same validity.
More precisely, a building or a house makes for a file containing documents such as location requirements, the building permit, the exploitation permit and other documents issued for the purpose of the construction. Location requirements are kept for three years, whereas the building and the exploitation permits are kept permanently.
– The state doesn’t want to deal with filing, so they send the entire documentation to the Serbian Archive for them to sort out the documents. Since the Archive is understaffed for this kind of job, the documents pile up. The state finds it the easiest to have most documents kept permanently, which is how we’ve reached those 93%, whereas most of it probably unnecessary – Radak points out.
The calculations show that, for the business sector, the costs of keeping the documentation in hard copy are even greater. A medium-size bank produces 11 million pieces of paper a year, and a smaller store chain spends up to EUR 150,000 on toners, paper, printing and renting storage space. E-business will therefore save hundreds of millions of euros.