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 September 2011

Australia scrutinises evaluation of reform

An  Australian active member of our network draws our attention to an interesting technical document issued by the Productivity Commission on 23 September. It is a "discussion draft." to support on-going work on Identifying and Evaluating Regulatory Reforms, currently one of the most relevant issues in RR (see OECD conference in Madrid on a very close topic).  It contains a considerable amount of in-depth analysis of methods for identifying and evaluating regulatory reforms, in both the main report and the very rich appendices.
Australia is part of a small group of countries that has chosen the "productivity" approach rather than focus on "competitiveness" (as Ireland, among others, does). In the opinion of this blogger, productivity makes more sense economically, is better rooted in theory, when dealing with the dynamics of  factors of production.
The site of the Australian ministry of finance contains some interesting insights into the history and relevannce of productivity in the national context.

Taiwan's performance in competitiveness

The rapid rise of Chinese Taipei in the Doing Business ranking is a first-rate success story for regulatory reform experts. Still ranked 61st in the world in 2008, the position climbed to 46th in 2009 and 33rd in 2010. This excellent rating is confirmed by the Global Competitiveness report 2012, which preserves the Island's excellent position (13th) reached in the previous report.
The best source of official information on how the Government achieved such a result is to be found on the site of the Centre for Economic Planning and Development, especially its yearly activity report. This year's issue, published earlier this month, includes the reform principles and measures undertaken by the different ministries and commissions. Concrete measures include the institution of online application procedures for company establishment, the provision of single-window services for construction permit applications, the use of personal property as collateral, and the legislation of laws and regulations for the protection of investors. Business friendly reform rest on a closely orchestrated interdepartmental collaboration. Efforts completed in 2010 and 2011 include such tax-facilitation measures as reduction of the business income tax to 17% and simplification of tax-filing procedures for profit-seeking enterprises. An excellent background note is published online by Professor Eric Yi-hung Chiou.

15 September 2011

European Parliament endorses smart regulation

An event for us smart regulators : a report on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality, and smart regulation was adopted by the European Parliament. Subject to reading the full 22 page report, filed by Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim, the content seems close to that if the  joint report by the UK, DK and NL (March 2010) already reported on this blog.
The report is important and useful in that it sums up the current potential of smart regulation in the evolution of the institutional balance in the European Union, in the context of the Lisbon treaty and EU2020. More forceful burden cutting was necessary to restore European competitiveness, threatened by countries such as India and China says Sajjad. The report and motion were adopted by the EP.
Some of the ideas are excerpted in a declaration on the MEP’s personal site, published yesterday, which makes for easier reading (link pointed out by DT), among which the idea that the EU may still fail to reach its target of reducing administrative burdens by 25% before the end of next year, partly because of national “gold-plating” of EU rules.

A "minister for red tape" (Ontario)

According to a Canadian online article, Conservatives in Ontario want to intensify the fight against red tape. A candidate has promised to cut the size of cabinet by 20 per cent if he wins the Ontario election, but at least one of the ministers left standing will find a new list of duties added to the job description – minister of red tape. The Progressive Conservative platform calls for “red tape” to be reduced by more than 30 per cent.

Spain continues battle against admin burden

Spanish cabinet set the reduction target at 30% in May 2007, the most ambitious figure in the EU, and published a Plan of Action in June 2008. According to various studies mentioned online, the total administrative costs amounted to 4.6% of GDP (some 43 billion euros) 30% of which would correspond to local legislation. The Spanish approach to administrative burdens is managed by the Ministry of Public Administrations but is supervised by a deputy PM.
There may be doubts elsewhere, but work in on-going in Spain, as reported at a conference held in June in the Baleares.
The fourth batch of burden reduction measures, totalling a 2 billion euros savings directed principally at business, was approved by the Government in December 2010.
A fifth package of reduction measures, directed at citizens, was approved by the Cabinet in May 2011, for a total reduction of 500 million euros.
The Confederation of employers has published the results of measurement and reduction work conducted in 2010, along with 2011 perspectives. The CEOE is under contract with the Government to conduct the SCM operations.
Following the national target decision, the government signed an agreement with the federation of local authorities to enlist their cooperation in achieving the 30% reduction, which applies also to local burdens.
The federation has published a simplified methodology for administrative burdens created by municipalities and provinces, along with other technical documents (such as RIA). The approach is based on the search for quality and evaluation techniques. The information also mentions 10 pilot projects managed in 10 different local entities.
Several Autonomous Communities (regions) have conducted administrative burden reduction programmes of their own, or in connection with the national initiative, and have published results, including simplification plans (such as Castilla Leon, including its own SCM guide, Cantabria where the plan is directed as casinos, or Andalucia, Asturias and Aragon.)
The city of Gijon reports the existence of a working group comprising representatives of the 10 major Spanish cities.

14 September 2011

Serbia: expert summarizes 10 years of RR

Serbia gives the picture of an economy trying to break away from the heavy heirloom of the Yugoslav system, and partly succeeding. The recently published Global Competitiveness index, which places it in 90th position in 144 economies, shows poor scores for institutions and freedom from administrative interference, but good traits emerging for macroeconomic management and education. Not surprisingly, government bureaucracty and corruption still feature are major obstacles to business. Nikola Jankovic from Jankovic Popovic Mitic Law Firm (JPM) gives, in an interview to Balkans.com, a picture of recent progress and its current limits.
“The first wave of the changes included adoption of a number of the new laws which were supposed to bring Serbia closer to creation of the market economy and integration into the European market. First of all, we would like to point out that the Privatization Act from 2001 announced the change of the concept of privatization in Serbia. The said Act introduced the Privatization Agency the aim of which was to operatively manage the process of privatization. Today, the privatization process is at the final stage. Over the previous years a significant step forward has been made in restructuring of the public enterprises, which has resulted in improvement of their financial performances.
The second wave of the changes was marked by continuation of the activities on adoption of the new acts, such as the Companies Act, which has integrated the EU Directives in its original wording, while the intention of the Act on Litigation Proceedings and the Act on the Executive Procedure has been to expedite and increase the efficiency of the litigation proceedings. Besides the said Act, also the Energy Act has been adopted as well as many other Acts.” (The rest of the interview examines the application for EU membership and modernization of regulation.)

National Competitiveness under the microscope

Interesting yearly must-read for all smart regulators, just published, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness survey. For highlights of the 2011-2012 edition, see press release. Main news:
  • Switzerland, Singapore and Sweden top the ranking
  • The US continues the decline it began three years ago, falling one more place to fifth position
  • Emerging economies continue to close the competitiveness gap with OECD economies
“The results show that while competitiveness in advanced economies has stagnated over the past seven years, in many emerging markets it has improved, placing their growth on a more stable footing and mirroring the shift in economic activity from advanced to emerging economies.
The People’s Republic of China (26th) continues to lead the way among large developing economies, improving by one more place and solidifying its position among the top 30. Among the four other BRICS economies, South Africa (50th) and Brazil (53rd) move upwards while India (56th) and Russia (66th) experience small declines. Several Asian economies perform strongly, with Japan (9th) and Hong Kong SAR (11th) also in the top 20.”
The ranking provides a global view centered on outcomes which complements the Doing Business index, which is more focused on regulatory procedures and pays great attention to reforms. Each year, the GCR explores one of the conceptual issues underpinning the study of competitiveness: debt (2012), fiscal policy (2011), etc and gives detailed methodological clarifications.
2- page country reports place each national economy on the development ladder which comprises 3 stages (factor based, efficiency-driven, innovative), list the relative importance of “problematic factors for doing business” and present the scores in each of the 12 “pillars” of competitiveness in a easy to read diamond.

11 September 2011

ASEAN starts regulatory reform dialogue

Among many reasons for engaging in international regulatory cooperation, regional economic integration is certainly one of the most promising in terms of competitiveness and growth potential. After devoting a decade (2000-2010) to applying Better Regulation principles to its legal production, the European Union has refined its tools under the name of smart regulation. Other regions are following, as already reported on this blog, including South East Asia and East Africa.
In South East Asia, regional integration took another step forward, as delegates met for the First ASEAN Regulatory Reform Dialogue (ARRD) in Jakarta on July 27. Here are excerpts from the official report online:
“The Dialogue - chaired by Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam -is an important avenue to exchange views and information on regulatory reform efforts and policy measures, and to discuss measures and activities to take forward ASEAN initiatives on regulatory reform related issues.
This effort is a positive and pro-active step towards looking into ways to deal with impediments to trade, and investment facilitation, as ASEAN advances its economic integration.
Specialists in structural and regulatory reforms from the World Bank, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)Secretariat, also shared their knowledge, tools, approaches and experiences at the Dialogue.
In today's complex and interconnected world, regulations assume a greater role than ever before as a fundamental tool of government, and an integral part of a well-functioning economy. Regulatory reform is a multi-faceted task that involves various stakeholders, and it requires co-operation between all levels and all stakeholder groups in ASEAN, namely government administration, business, and peoples.
Dato Lim said that "ASEAN is diverse and there is no 'one size fits all' formulation to addressing regulatory reform . but there is scope for a degree of regulatory coherence in many areas, especially in areas committed under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint". He further elaborated that "undertaking regulatory reform will never be an easy task and it is essential to start the process of socialising the issue of regulatory reform within ASEAN today".
The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, S. Pushpanathan, who participated in the Dialogue, articulated that "behind the border regulatory reform could assist ASEAN countries in realising the full potentials and benefits of trade, investment liberalization, and facilitation at the border." He further added that, "for a successful regulatory reform to take place, it is important that we bring in the private sector and other stakeholders to participate in the regulatory reform and policy-making process".
During the Dialogue, each ASEAN country presented the progress, challenges and issues related to regulatory and structural reform that has and is being undertaken in the areas of trade in services, investment facilitation and transport. The Members then exchanged views on their respective reform efforts and discussed on the possibility of cooperation in these three areas at the regional level.”

Canadian red tape commission finds 2300 'irritants'

The final report of the Canadian government's Red Tape Reduction Commission won't be ready until later this fall, but an interim report offers the government plenty of suggestions for cutting government bureaucracy. The minister in charge, who chairs the Commisison, told the press  that a series of consultations and roundtables across Canada identified some 2,300 "irritants" for the business community. Without forfeiting the benefits of sound regulation for the health and safety of citizens, the government should reduce compliance costs, which were often transferred to consumers, employees and investors. For more, see CBC News article.

Philippines: one-stop-shop with ASEAN dimension

An article published today by a Philippines Online Journal draws attention to a seemingly advanced system to simplify business red tape. The National Single Window (NSW) was set up by a Presidential Executive Order and allows a single submission and accelerated processing of applications for licenses, permits and other authorizations required prior to undertaking a trade transaction. It already serves as a link between 40 Agencies and their public. See their very informative site.
But what is really special about this single window is its international dimension: it stems from the agreement to establish an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 whose mission is to develop a single market and production base that is stable, prosperous and highly competitive and economically integrated with effective facilitation for trade and investment, thereby forming the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). The ASEAN Single Window is the environment where NSWs of member countries operate and integrate. Activities include exchange of information of ASEAN Customs Declaration Document and Certificate of Origin under the Common Effective Preferential Treatment (CEPT) scheme of ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). The impetus for these reforms is supported by regular meetings of the ASEAN Regulatory Reform Dialogue (see last meeting on 27 July 2011).
A 2009 short report, published by APEC, presumably as a spin-off of the OECD-APEC Cooperative Initiative on Regulatory Reform, draws a comprehensive picture of achievements and shortcomings of Regulatory Reform in the Philippines.

10 September 2011

News from Switzerland on cutting red tape and RIA

The Swiss government published its official report on cutting red tape on businesses on 24 August (for the French version); German and Italian versions are also available - click on the language link on the webpage). The report reviews the measures undertaken by the Federal Council since 2007 and sketches initiatives to be launched throughout the next four years. It was supported also by a review of the federal system of so-called “detailed” RIAs and SCM studies, which was carried out in 2010. Administrative simplification and the reduction of regulatory costs have gained on relevance in the Swiss policy and political debate in the past few months – not least as a part of the current campaign for the national political elections of this autumn, with the economic crisis as a background. A national political party has launched an explicit popular initiative against over-bureaucratisation, and the issue is brought forward by a number of stakeholders too. I am available for more information (lallio@alliorodrigo.com).

08 September 2011

NZ moves to "Reducing Regulation"

(From Daniel T.) In a report published today, the New Zealand government reports on its activity since November 2008 to implement its 2009 regulatory policy entitled "Better Regulation, Less Regulation." After a brief presentation of concepts, including a list of seven updated principles, the report lists both changes already implemented as well as those approved by Cabinet and being carried out. It sets out the expected impacts of regulatory changes on businesses and citizens, although the full impacts and costs were not yet fully calculated. "Case studies" in separate boxes help understand the nature of the measures, which are listed under headings that speak volumes: removing requirements, streamlining processes, increasing flexibility, taking a risk-based approach, market expansion, closely supervising compliance costs.Some of the measures are being enacted via an (omnibus) Regulatory Reform Bill, while a "revocations" act repeals a number of obsolete regulations. All in all, efficiency and innovation from the land of the Kiwi (not only good rugby).

05 September 2011

Reducing Regulation (UK)

A reader from the UK reminded us on the associated LinkedIn group forum of a particularly useful document about the new regulatory policy implemented by the Coalition "Reducing Regulation Made Simple: less regulation, better regulation and regulation as a last resort" published in December 2010 by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Apologies for not mentioning it before. LinkedIn visitors have shown their appreciation, and here are a few words to underline the importance of the document.
The title itself shows the extent of the policy shift towards deregulation, without officiallly adopting that concept that is freely used in comments.
Such new content is served by an attractive presentation, aiming at informing the general public about the fundamentals of the new governement policy: the "strategic context" (how reducing regulation helps growth), ways and means of "reducing regulation", including norms sent down from Brussels, clear role definitions for regulators to ensure harder scrutiny of draft legislation, working methods within policy making departments.
This is clearly the most innovative document in the last12 months, that merits attentive reading. The extent of its compatibility with "smart regulation" now the official European concept for regulatory quality, can be a good topic for discussion.

Commission proposes electronic ID for bovines

One of the most potent administrative burden reduction measures at EU level, which had been under study for two years, has been given a green light. On August 31, the European Commission adopted a proposal that will, it claims, further enhance food safety and better safeguard animal health in the EU when it is implemented. 
From the press release: "In particular, the Commission proposal provides the legal framework for the introduction, for the first time and on a voluntary basis, of an electronic identification system (EID) for bovine animals. Bovine EID is already used in several EU Member States on a private basis mainly for farm management purposes. Its implementation on a wider scale will strengthen the current traceability system for bovine animals and food products (e.g. beef) making it faster and more accurate. Finally, it may bring benefits to farmers and other stakeholders as it will reduce the administrative burden through the simplification of the current administrative procedures. Despite its voluntary character, the Commission proposal allows Member States to introduce a mandatory regime at national level.In addition to EID, the Commission proposal introduces changes in relation to labelling, by repealing the current provisions on voluntary beef labelling. The main objective is to reduce unnecessary administrative burden."
This measure had been one of the key suggestions stemming from the "baseline operation" within the Action Programme for reducing administrative burdens in the European Union ("Food Safety" priority area).