This independent blog collects news about projects or achievements in regulatory reform / better regulation. It is edited by Charles H. Montin. All opinions expressed are given on a personal basis.
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27 December 2010

Morroco registers success in regulatory reform

In its bid to become an ever-more business friendly country, the Kingdom of Morocco has scored several points in recent weeks, some of which are listed in this post.
According to  the 2011 Doing Business report, Morocco's ranking rose by 14 places, from 128th to 114th. In comparison, Tunisia is in 55th position, and Algeria 136th. Recent business climate reforms were listed and discussed at a recent French Chamber of Commerce and Industry conference by the minister Mr. Nizar Baraka: cutting red tape and simplifying administrative procedures, improving infrastructure (road and rail investment public investment has doubled this year), reducing the rate of corporate tax, reforming higher education to make it more responsive to the needs for skills.
Public service reform in Morocco is well documented on the website of the ministry of modernisation of the public sectors under the responsibility of Mr. Mohamed Saad El Alami . The Programme for modernisation and improvement of the management of Moroccan administrations comprises several pillars such as development of human resources, better local government and administrative simplification.
On 20 December, the Comité national de l'environnement des affaires (CNEA), which brings together key stakeholders, published the results of its first year of operation, listing 8 major reforms in the pipeline for adoption by May 2011, all aimed at making life easier for companies to register and operate, including commercial law and public procurement.
Its 2010 working programme lists four strategic priorities, the first being the simpler and more transparent administrative procedures.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has been supporting Morocco's public administration reforms since 1993. In 2006, a loan of 85 million euros was granted to finance the implementation of the second phase of the Public Administration Reform Support Programme (PARSP), launched in 2003. PARSP II seeks to improve the government's efficiency in budget and human resources management and to consolidate and control the public payroll.
The World Bank Group funds and delivers projects contributing to the economic and social development of Morocco, which are agreed with the Government in a Country Partnership Strategy (CPS). Covering a 4 year period (2010-2013), the CPS proposes  projects to enhance growth, competitiveness and employment, which require inter alia policies supporting a stable macroeconomic environment, an improved business environment and a trade policy that supports the competitiveness of Moroccan products. A second set of projects seek to improve service delivery to citizens, including a closer attention to the effectiveness of the public administration and the outcomes of public policies and investments.
Morocco is a participant to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The current agenda of EU-Morocco relations is spelled out in an Action Plan which includes mutually agreed priorities and objectives for cooperation in the political, economic, commercial, justice, security and cultural spheres. The table summarising the projects and programmes to be financed in Morocco between 2007-2010 within the framework of the National Indicative Programme includes an appropriation of 20 million euros for public service reform.
Morocco also cooperates closely with OECD. At its ministerial conference in November, the Public Governance Committee of the OECD approved the membership of Morocco as a permanent observer, inter alia in recognition of its role as chair of the Good Governance for Development (GfD) in Arab Countries Initiative  (working group on civil service and integrity) and recent progress recently made to improve governance.
International experts, such as Scott Jacobs, have been assisting the implementation of these reforms by the development of regulatory reform tools and the training of officials in key ministries.
A Manual of Procedures (available in four languages) has been developed with the support of USAID to inventory and simplify investment procedures and bring them into line with international standards. A network of 16 Regional Investment Centres (CRI) ensures a consistent implementation accross the territory and offers, alongside one-stop-shop facilities, economic information relevant to business. Several websites provide practical information about setting up a business in Morocco, for instance "Esprit d'Entreprise" and the electronic portal "e-invest'".
E-government solutions are actively pursued under the aegis of the Plan Maroc Numeric 2013, managed under the personal supervision of the King. On 16 December, the Moroccan e-Government Forum took stock of the first year of the programme, which comprises a total of 89 projects, 15 key of which are expected to deliver by end 2011.  

France: business secretary announces measures for SMEs

On 20 December, newly appointed business minister (in charge of commerce, crafts and SMEs) Frédéric Lefebvre detailed an action plan to facilitate administrative support to SMEs, which in summary includes:
- the appointment of an SME contact point in each département who will be required to stay in touch with business realities by spending time in companies;
- the appointment of dedicated officials to specially assist 2000 high potential SMEs in their paperwork;
- a major conference ("Assizes") to address cutting red tape issues for SMEs, in the first quarter of 2011.
In application of the same policy, on 1 January 2011, a major simplification of VAT reporting on intracommunity exchanges of goods will take effect, as per a décret signed on 13 December. The relevant declaration will no longer be required for exchanges (not imports nor exports) up to 460k per year.

16 December 2010

The red tape trail (in the US)

Another way to look at the accumulation of administrative procedures, provided by an insightful article in the Portland Press Herald, is to look at how many agencies do companies really deal with. A CEO of in the food industry in Maine (US), asked his staff to compile a list of administrations they have to deal with. It turns out, the company deals with at least 22 state agencies and 14 federal agencies, as well as local government. We rest our case, your honor…

Save the date: IRRC 2011!

Communication from Bertelsmann Stiftung: “We – the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Modern Regulation project – are glad to announce that 2011 will be a year with an International Regulatory Reform Conference. As ever, we would highly appreciate your presence at this event.
Therefore, please save the date for the fourth edition of the International Regulatory Reform Conference to take place on March 10 – 11, 2011!
More information will follow in due course. Registration will be opened in connection with the official invitation to be sent out in early January.
Please feel free to forward this message to interested colleagues.
We hope to be able to welcome you to the next IRRC,
With kind regards,
The Modern Regulation team   “

News from British BR

UK puts an end to "goldplating": surprising news see official press release dated 15 Dec. The key to the new measures will be the principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law. How come no-one seems to have thought of that before.
The end of the “enterprise tsars”: the Department for Business will also see through the reforms to health and safety regulations that the Prime Minister's former enterprise adviser recommended in October. The Institute of Directors said it was disappointed the Prime Minister had not appointed another "enterprise tsar" to lead independent reviews of obstacles to business growth and jobs, in replacement Lord Young (who resigned a few months ago).
PM D. Cameron to enhance local democracy: radical changes to planning policy will cut red tape and allow residents to take a greater role in shaping their own communities.
New anti-corruption rules will increase red tape: According to business risk consultancy Control Risks, which has just released its annual ‘Risk Map’, new, ultra-tough anti-bribery rules coming into force both in the UK and US will be one of the main causes of headaches for businesses during 2011.

08 December 2010

How can Open Government and E-Rulemaking contribute to BR?

Members of this network are invited to contribute by 15 December to an interesting discussion about how Web 2.0 technologies can contribute to making the regulatory process more accessible, transparent, comprehensible and participatory. The discussion is opened by an OECD note on Open Government and E-Rulemaking which as presented at the October 2010 Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) meeting.

EC glowing update on cutting red tape

The Commission's efforts to cut unnecessary administrative burdens are progressing well, making the lives of businesses easier, in particular small and medium sized enterprises, and strengthening European competitiveness. The Commission has already tabled proposals with a reduction potential well above the target of 25 % and is preparing new proposals bringing the total reduction potential to almost 33 % or EUR 40.7 bn. That is the key message of the update about the implementation of the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU, published today on the eve of the Competitiveness Council. Commission President José Manuel Barroso discussed this progress today with the Chairman of the High-Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, Dr. Edmund Stoiber. The Group advises and assists the Commission on administrative burden reduction and will produce a report on best practice in Member States by end of 2011.

07 December 2010

Uganda launches regulatory reform

Last week, Uganda launched a regulatory reform programme with World Bank support. According to the press release, the reform program will focus on reducing regulatory costs and risks associated with obtaining business licenses, and on simplifying and reducing taxes for small and medium enterprises. Uganda’s legal and regulatory regime is cited as one of the biggest challenges constraining the country’s private sector. A recent World Bank Group study of Uganda’s business licensing regime puts the annual private sector regulatory compliance costs at $175 million per year, which represents 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP.
Uganda is not alone in this venture: regulatory reforms are pursued across the region and are boosted by the adoption in November 2009 of the Common Market Protocol, which should lead to measures to ease doing business and harmonised laws that guarantee the region's competitiveness to help its economies are to surpass the current level of investments.
In a follow up to last year's peer-to-peer reformers meeting in Arusha, the World Bank Group convened another meeting in Kampala recently to assess progress and how much ease has been created for businesses to operate in the region.
The Bank's experts say the region now requires more business-friendly regulation and faster legislation of business laws, preferably handled by the region's parliament. Reforms are also needed in tax payment systems, land registration and business licensing.
This work is supported by the Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group which helps governments implement reforms to improve their business environment, and encourage and retain investment, thus fostering competitive markets, growth and job creation. Funding is provided by the World Bank Group (IFC, MIGA, and the World Bank) and over fifteen donor partners working through the multi-donor FIAS platform

Businesses welcome security regulation

In these days of Wikileaks dominated news, will regulation as a protection rather than an obstacle make a comeback?
According to a recent survey in the US, which fielded answers from a total of 285 security pros in industries such as food and agriculture, defense and information technology, it appears that the companies with the most industry regulations to address tended to have better security practices. 39 percent said the government should "enact more stringent cyber-security legislation along the lines of PCI." Thirty-two percent believed the government should create legislation with higher data breach fines.
More and more, better regulation means delivering efficiently the whole range of public policies, not just reducing paperwork. Appropriate regulatory response to risks is an essential component of good regulatory management.

Doing Business 2011: regulatory reform going strong

Last month the World Bank issued its new edition of its famous Doing Business survey, which is well worth studying as it reports on global progress towards better regulatory management. In the past year, governments in 117 economies carried out 216 regulatory reforms aimed at making it easier to start and operate a business, strengthening transparency and property rights, and improving the efficiency of commercial dispute resolution and bankruptcy procedures.
There are some unexpected changes which demonstrate  the diversity of the possible approaches, and the complexity of what makes economies attractive. SMEs have often been the targeted beneficiaries of the improvements to the business climate.
For the fifth year running, Singapore leads in the ease of doing business, followed by Hong Kong SAR China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Among the top 25 economies, 18 made things even easier over the past year.
Kazakhstan leads the list of countries having improved business regulation for local entrepreneurs which also includes three in Sub-Saharan Africa— Rwanda (a consistent reformer of business regulation), Cape Verde, and Zambia—as well as Peru, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Hungary, Grenada, and Brunei Darussalam.

04 December 2010

Announcement of Conference on REACH - 22/2/2011, Brussels

This blog has been informed of a Conference on REACH - Challenges after the registration deadline of 1 December 2010 - 22 February 2011,  in Brussels
 It's about the challenges after the first of three registration deadlines of the REACH regulation which has just passed: Substances in high quantities and CMR substances had to be registered by 1 December 2010.
At this conference, the second in the field of law which is covered by our European Journal of Risk Regulation (EJRR), we will evaluate and discuss the impacts and challenges of this registration deadline for the chemical industry. At the beginning of the conference the actual situation after December will closely looked at 1 from different points of view with seven speakers from various backgrounds informing the audience about their experiences. Towards the end the speakers will concentrate on a possible revision (panel discussion with all speakers).
More information and registration at bock@lexxion.de

01 December 2010

Korea deregulates business permits

There are many of us regulatory experts who do not fully support deregulation. In that context, the example of Korea, which has been pursuing a deregulation campaigns since 1998, is quite enlightening.  An interesting summary is provided by a recently published editorial in the Korean Herald. The article concludes that deregulation has proved efficient to speed up recovery from the Asian financial crisis by improving the business environment. But these efforts apparently need to be intensified with  across-the-board elimination of regulations that unnecessarily require licenses or permits. A new technique has been devised for the latest deregulation initiative: transforming the current positive-list system for issuing licenses and permits to a negative-list one. A positive system prohibits all activities except those that are explicitly approved, while a negative approach allows all activities except those that are specifically prohibited. Under a negative system, a person can start a business without a license or permit unless it is banned by law.
For more on this interesting new (?) approach, see the editorial.

Senate slams National Assembly simplification bill

For many experts, France stands for the model of unswerving dedication to legal simplification, in answer to its “normative inflation”, with Italy the country that invented the simplification laws. Now after six years of intensive practice, has the simplification machinery run amok?  A recent report by the economic committee rapporteur of the Senate provides a bit of soul-searching. Under the title “Oeuvre utile ou illusion dangereuse? “ (useful work or a dangerous illusion), he signs a highly critical text showing how complex it has become to draft simplification measures. The senator criticizes the lack of justification and explanation, the absence of any impact assessment (contrary to the new rules),  the limited time for discussion. There had been signs that the procedure may have been running out of steam, the government having first given signs of weariness by transferring the onus of preparing the texts to Parliament. It is not clear against whom the severe indictment of the Senate is directed: though it primarily concerns the draft from the National Assembly, the ills seem to be inherent in the whole law-making system and responsibility shared by all the institutions.
An involuntary illustration of the problems denounced by the senator is given by the recent draft revised budget bill for 2010. Hidden in a 272 pages long bill, a number of simplification measures concerning tax and customs are well presented, with some justification. But the subject matter is so complex that the simplification will only be visible to the experts.

Viet Nam's commitment to administrative reform

We all know how much good regulatory management can bring about a better environment for investment and business, and is therefore particularly relevant in developing and transition countries seeking higher rates of growth. But knowing it and acting on it are two different things. Among the countries having resolutely adopted a regulatory reform agenda, we should single out Viet Nam, where sustained efforts to reform the public administration since the 1990s under the responsibility of the Home Affairs Ministry, have recently taken on a regulatory reform dimension. An interministerial Special Task Force was set up in 2007 to implement a large scale “administrative procedure reform.” Several foreign aid agencies supported the effort, among which USAID with its Viet Nam Competitiveness Initiative, AusAID and others.
The simplification of administrative procedures is well underway with “Project 30” having already delivered a full inventory of existing procedures, accessible online to citizens and business in a “national database” and two batches of simplification measures compiled after the officials applied the Regulatory Guillotine TM of Jacobs and Associates.
Other regulatory reforms instruments are also in the pipeline, such as the introduction of RIA, codification, electronic portals for business procedures (managed in each major city) and one-stop shops. An agency in charge of controlling the quality of new regulation according to the new principles has just been setup.
To take stock and evaluate achievements and plan further policies, the government of Viet Nam invited OECD to assess Project 30 and recommend options for a regulatory reform strategy. The report was presented at the first ASEAN-OECD workshop on regulatory reform, in Hanoi on 25-26 November. This major event, co-hosted by Viet Nam as chair of ASEAN and the OECD, was attended by some 15O Vietnamese officials and representatives from 6 other ASEAN countries. It was widely reported in the press, with official press releases from the Vietnamese Communist Party and the Government showing that this is a priority policy.
Many of the measures planned still need to be implemented, and the economic effects of the reforms have yet to be measured, but in the meantime, there is no doubt about the current government’s determination to cut red tape and reform public administration.