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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24 April 2012

Simplification commissioner's first annual report (France)

The French government's website published on 20 April the first annual report of the commissioner in charge of simplification, whose rôle is to monitor the moratorium on governement regulations concerning local authorities, enforce the common commencement dates scheme and check the quality of RIAs.
The report indicates that the commissioner examined around 700 draft texts concerning local government and business, rejecting 14 and placing reservations on some 45% of them. The remainder were often discussed with the originating ministry before being given the green light. Another new product related to the commissioner's work is the online registry of business regulations ranked by commencement date already lists 500 texts.

Multimedia takes on regulatory reform

A visually impressive and also very interesting in substance presentation of the new integrated approach in our Flemish regulatory unit “Prezi” is available online, following the expert meeting in Nicosia reported earlier on this blog.
Also shown at that meeting, and now on Youtube, a short film about the film about the Electronic Company File: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6bk3nIBz80

Brasil reports progress on RR

A new interesting example of how the principles of Better Regulation can be tailored to meet specific national policy objectives is given to us by the Brasilian Presidency, in its March 2012 report recently published. The Programme for the Strengthening of Institutional Capacity for Management in Regulation - PRO-REG, managed jointly by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Brasilian Federal Government has been seeking the following goals since 2007:
- stronger institutional mechanisms for managing regulation;
- improvement of the quality of regulation;
- more autonomous federal regulatory agencies;
- better instruments of supervision of regulation.
A translation into English has been provided for readers of the blog.

20 April 2012

Russian experts discuss projected BR council

Earlier this month an updated version of the concept of the National Council for the improvement of legal regulation of business and investment activities was presented at the international Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development XIII hosted by Higher School of Economics, during session T-12 "Regulatory Impact Assessment". The concept is part of the contribution to the "Strategy 2020" by expert group №4 "Strengthening market institutions." The key speakers A.G. Karapetov and D.B. Tsygankov have participated in the design of the draft law on the National Council. For more, visit the Russian RIA-Centre website.
Also in Russia, a coming conference on implementation of regulatory reform: the 10th Congress of the International Association of Legislation (IAL) will take place on 28-29 June 2012, in Veliky Novgorod, on the theme "Regulatory Reforms – Implementation and Compliance"

Gender balance promotes growth

"Progress in gender equality leads to economic growth", says European Commission report published on 17 April. Gender balance must be viewed as a cross-cutting component of regulatory reform, fully integrated in the policies, institutions and tools. See press release for a good summary of the various policies involved.

Red Tape Taskforce created in Queensland

A Red Tape Reduction Taskforce has just been set up in Queensland. It will report by mid July to the state government "about what regulations can be done away with," whether they come from the state or the local level, though most texts are expected to come from the state.
The taskforce brings together council representatives as well as experts in planning, building, environment health and licensing. Its focus will be to identify red tape and regulation that can be removed to help small business. The objective is "to cut red tape by 20 per cent ... or some 18,000 pages."
For background, see the brochure from the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A September 2011 report from the Productivity Commission gives an overview of the regulatory role of local government (some 580 entities in 8 states).

17 April 2012

MENA countries invited to reform SOE (OECD)

Middle Eastern and North African countries should reform the governance of their state-owned enterprises to bring about greater public accountability and improve their efficiency, according to an OECD report published last week. Towards New Arrangements for State Ownership in the Middle East and North Africa argues that improved corporate governance is key to reducing corruption and restoring confidence in public institutions in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. For more see OECD announcement.

MP calls for more transparency in policy making (France)

The electoral campaign is a good time to make proposals to involve the public in a more transparent and efficient way in public policy making. In this last week before the election in France, an MP (from the goverment party) gave senior officials from local governement his views on the current consultation methods in a paper for Lettre du Cadre. Based on his assessment, Mr Planchet made proposals to curb "legislative inflation" (a general concern in France) by adopting a EU-style RIA and consultation scheme under scrutiny of an independent authority. For the most important reforms, the consultation should be held on a very wide basis, as a "national public debate" that could be triggered by a petition from a sufficient number of citizens. The existing Commission nationale du débat public would be in charge of organising such widescale consultation which would take inspiration from the Danish Board of Technology.

Use of CBA questioned (RegBlog)

Does cost benefit analysis (CBA) significantly improve the economic impact of new regulations? how do political interfere with the technical scrutiny ? What is a "midnight" regulation"? (a regulation adopted close to the end of the mandate of the legislator.) Two ex staff members of OIRA now in academe take a new critical look at CBA, beyond the usual issues of the morality of the entire enterprise or the correct discount rate to use or the treatment of uncertainty. A worthwhile read on RegBlog.

13 April 2012

OECD defines future research on regulatory policy

This week, the OECD held a bi-annual meeting of its Regulatory Policy Committee, (RPC) a forum created in 2009 to assist member and non-member economies in building and strengthening their regulatory reform efforts. It is a platform to help countries adapt regulatory policies, tools and institutions, learning from each other’s experience. The proceedings are a mine of technical information for experts worldwide. See for instance the list of topics discussed at the Novermber 2011 session with links to the most important reference documents. At this week’s event, delegates shared updates on work done since the last session on most of the themes (Enforcement and Compliance, International Regulatory Cooperation, Measuring regulatory performance). New workstreams will probably address Regulation and Growth, Economic Regulators, while the work of reviewing regulatory policy in member and partner states (on demand) will continue. Delegates decided to do their utmost to disseminate and apply the Recommendation on Regulatory Policy and Governance adopted on 22 March.

Growth potential of better delivery of regulation

Last week the British BRDO (Better Regulation Delivery Office) published a discussion paper, Regulation and Growth, which according to the press release considers whether effective regulatory delivery can benefit businesses and contribute towards UK economic growth. “The paper aims to clarify and inform policy by highlighting three interlinked ways that regulatory delivery can impact on growth: by reducing costs, improving confidence and control and realising wider economic benefits. It focuses on the delivery of regulation that impacts directly on business and is targeted at those involved in regulatory policy and front line practitioners.”
The publication of this paper is very timely, as the topic of implementation (or delivery) is now considered to be a possible weak link in the regulatory cycle. For more references, see the “enforcement” category of this blog, or more specially the post entitled “delivery: the next challenge for better regulators?” The connection between economic growth and regulatory policy in general (beyond the delivery dimension) is the subject of a seminal official publication “Regulatory Policy and the road to sustainable growth” which opens avenues for research which were recently confirmed as one of the priorities of the next work programme of the OECD.

Doing Business in EAC report 2012 just published

Released on Wednesday, ‘Doing Business for East African Community Report 2012’ has revealed that the business environment for entrepreneurs in all five economies improved in 2010-2011, as the countries implemented critical regulatory reforms. For a factual comment, see IPPMedia article.
The report finds that Burundi is among the top ten most improved economies worldwide in 2010-2011, with four regulatory reforms: dealing with construction permits, protecting investors, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency. Rwanda, the top performer in the region, made the most progress over the past six years. Worldwide, it made the second-most progress. Over that period, Rwanda implemented 22 reforms, making it easier to do business across nine areas of regulation. Additionally, the economy has undertaken ambitious land and judicial reforms, introduced new corporate, insolvency, civil procedure, and secured transactions laws. Rwanda has also streamlined and remodeled institutions and processes for starting a business, registering property, trading across borders, and enforcing a contract through the courts.
If each member country were to adopt the region's best practice for each indicator measured by Doing Business, East Africa would rank 19 on the ease of doing business, comparable to Germany, rather than 115.

09 April 2012

SCM network perfects anti red tape tools

The Standard Cost Model Network (SCM) met in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 3 April to share news and insights into recent developments in regulatory costs. Delegates from nearly all EU countries, with Switzerland, and the European Commission were invited by the Cyprus ministry of finance to discuss recent trends in measurement and reduction techniques, in the context of updated smart regulation strategies at MS and Community levels. Among the notable presentations :
- Sweden reported on a policy to improve implementation of regulation by information and training of officials in local government ;s)
- Switzerland presented the methodology used to conduct a general check up of federal legislation, which draws on SCM expertise adapted to specifics of the Swiss context ;
- Germany announced that a new methodology will soon be discussed with EU partners, going beyond paperwork to address the full range of costs (including compliance costs) ; an international manual, drawing on German experience (see Bertelsmann manual on regulatory costs), may result from this cooperation ;
- The European Commission gave an update on its business agenda, which features a wide-scale consultation exercise to identify the «top ten » most irritating procedures, which will be later simplified, and more effective "fitness checks" of EU law.

Fascinating: "I paid a bribe" world movement

How can citizens who do not have the luck to live in a (relatively) developped and corruption-free world react to the daily pressure from officials to be paid for services, such as registration of a birth or a marriage, admission to hospital, are normally free. This article from the NY Times reports the appearance of websites in several countries that denounce petty bribery, giving horrifying practical illustrations:
  • The cost of claiming a legitimate income tax refund in Hyderabad, India? 10,000 rupees.
  • The going rate to get a child who has already passed the entrance requirements into high school in Nairobi, Kenya? 20,000 shillings.
  • The expense of obtaining a driver’s license after having passed the test in Karachi, Pakistan? 3,000 rupees.
The original ipaidabribe.com was created in August 2010 to collect anonymous reports of bribes paid, bribes requested but not paid and requests that were expected but not forthcoming and already comprises some 15,000 contributions. Others have since been set up in other countries such as China and Kenya.

Dossier simplification (en français)

Pour les lecteurs francophones, une bonne comparaison internationale des programmes de simplification administrative menés dans huit pays, préparée par l'organisme de formation des ministères économique et financier de France. En complément, pour ce qui concerne la France, une courte note écrite dans un esprit comparatif est aussi disponible sur ce blog.
Visitez aussi le site d'un think tank français, l'Ifrap, pour une analyse comparative intitulée: "Paperasserie administrative: pourquoi nos voisins font mieux" et une page toute récente (29 mars)  du site officiel faisant le de la politique de simplification en France.

05 April 2012

Cyprus prepares to chair smart regulation drive

The incoming presidency of the EU as of 1 July, Cyprus, is getting ready to take over from Denmark in keeping the pace of reform in smart regulation. Delegates from all but two member states attended a Better Regulation event in the ministry of finance at Nicosia on 2 April where the prospects of the future presidency were drawn up. The director of economic studies and european affairs of the ministry gave a comprehensive presentation on the Better Regulation policy in Cyprus, with a complete set of figures concerning the measurement and reduction of administrative burdens. Cyprus will be working in cooperation with the Trio (preceding and following presidencies of the EU) to determine priorities and adjustments to the policy.