28 March 2011
Throughout most of the articles on this blog, better regulation is mainly sought for its potential boost to national productivity and job potential, via the savings generated on regulatory costs for businesses. We sometimes even come across the notion of "regulatory competition" where different entities vie to become more competitive than their neighbours, by way of particularly efficient rules on opening and running businesses, in order to attract company headquarters or facilities. The reverse side of the same coin is the use of regulation as a barrier to entry for external or foreign investors (non-tariff barriers). A recent example of this is provided by the survey made by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing that supports the view that "growing Chinese red tape ... prevents them from expanding quickly in China's vast market."
Road blocks faced by firms in getting business licenses have multiplied to the extent that companies are now more worried about bureaucratic hurdles than by nebulous laws and regulation or corruption, AmCham's annual survey on China's business climate showed.
Meanwhile, red tape is also becoming a hot topic on the other side of the South China sea: an article published today in the China Times, following a murder blamed to administrative sloth, proclaims "Bureaucratic red tape unacceptable" and "unbearable when it causes irreparable damage such as loss of life." In parallel, the new Taipei Mayor recently demanded that city government officials "use plain language when answering appeals from the public. Most importantly, officials should be polite while addressing and solving the problems presented to them", said the mayor.
23 March 2011
- exempting very small firms (with fewer than 10 employees) from all new red tape for three years while the stock of regulationis being reviewed;
- a moratorium on "new domestic regulation" from April.
Opponents stress that most of the cuts affect social legislation (examples training, or maternity leave rights), thereby reducing guarantees to employees. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has published a pamphlet entitled "The Red Tape Delusion". Some observers point out that "cutting red tape isn't a strategy for growth" (Left Foot Forward). A discussion where we would need a few economic demonstrations rather than catchy phrases or unsubstantiated promises.
For the fourth edition, the organisers tried to cater for a perceived "hunger for renewal within the community", and go beyond the technocratic approach focusing more on instruments and techniques than on the political and societal context. They called for fresh ideas and a better view of the big picture, hence the motto of the conference "looking at the whole thing - the whole elephant" - a variant of the forest and the trees.
I examined the presentations and was pleased to find updates from all the major national projects underway (i.a. NL, UK, Canada) and some new approaches such as Kenya's (P. Chabeda on green growth). The most up-to-date technical expertise was reviewed (e.g. regulatory budgets, modelling for RIA). G. Pons summarized the recent development of smart regulation. Many thanks to Bertelsmann Stiftung and their partners (i.a. OECD, the World Bank Group, the Government of the Republic of Korea.)
17 March 2011
These goals are to be sought via actions similar to those undertaken by the EU to build its Internal Market, which relies to a large extent on Better Regulation principles and results, including the simplification of customs procedures across borders, harmonization of administrative documents, standardization of technical requirements and the transition from governmental pre- approval system to a post-market surveillance.
The programme also requires improving dispute settlement mechanisms.
10 March 2011
Jacobs and Associates informs us that registration is now open for the 5-Day Applied Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Training Course scheduled on 6-10 June in Rome, Italy, on the campus of LUISS University. The deadline for registration for the June course is May 2nd. This is the world’s most popular RIA course, and we hope to see you there. Over 60 countries have now adopted RIA around the world as governments invest more in controlling regulatory costs and finding more effective ways to regulate the business sector. See more information and register for any of our training courses at http://www.regulatoryreform.com/ria-training.html
The extension of on-line administrative services is one of the main instruments for delivering the improvements: currently two-thirds of most common procedures (such as registering on polling lists) can be handled from home, a figure that should reach 80% by the end of the year. The most impressive facility is the online submission of the income tax return which is used by 10 million tax-payers. Also 40% of farmers already use the internet to apply for grants.
The policy also highlights the search for "quality of service", including reducing processing time for authorizations or subsidies. Quality will continue to be monitored on a yearly basis by way of a published "barometer" and one-stop-shops will continue to merge ranges of services for specific publics (amalgamation of tax, and employment, offices for instance). Wide-scale re-organisation of central government presence on the ground is also being pursued in the same spirit. A summary in 20 pages gives a view of the scope and variety of the reform.
In an attractive format (congratulations Jennifer Stein), the brochure leads us step by step from the basics (why BR?, questions facing policy makers, what do citizens want?, what do businesses want?..) to the most current trends: what must we do to move to Smart Regulation? what does this new concept mean?, how do we encompass the life-cycle of the regulation? what is the new rôle of evaluation? how can the new concerns for greener regulation be taken on board?
Illustrated with many quotes from the speakers, with elegant pictures and layout, this is a document that will stand apart in our profesional documentation and deserve pointed srutiny and reflection. Perhaps its main merit will have been to successfully answer the challenge (see page 31) of "building a common languague to obtain society's engagement in regulation internationally."
08 March 2011
Nine regulations had been changed to help speed up the recovery process, including three changes to the Resource Management legislation. A new fast-track procedure would speed up the resource consent process for land remediation work by removing the need for public notifications, hearings and appeals.
The only problem, from a Better Regulation point of view, is that once more regulatory work is inspired by current events, not sound permanently enforced principles.
In an announcement yesterday, decentralisation minister Greg Clark, in a review of councils' red tape, is consulting local authorities whether to scrap many of the 1294 such information obligations. For more see LocalGov article.
The same approach has been in place in France for some time. The principle that the transfer of competencies must be accompanied by corresponding tax resources was raised to constitutional status in the 1980s but it remains a very technical matter, and is intensely discussed whenever an additional responsibility is delegated. In 2004, a major reform of local government listed all the "delegated competencies" and defined principles for calculating the corresponding "financial compensation". The scrutiny of possible new burdens is required for every new item of primary legislation. But in October 2010, the Senate, a traditional advocate of local authorities, expressed new concern and tabled legislation to make compensation of new regulatory burdens obligatory.
Another innovation from Brussels: last week, the well-known minister in charge of simplification, Vincent Van Quickenborne organised the first ministerial "twunch" as a new form of consultation (in this case on how public administrations could use data available on the social media.)