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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19 December 2013

Empowering and overseing economic regulators (India)

An interesting update on regulatory reform in India is provided by an article by the India Times dated 13 Dec. (extract) "The government has given its go ahead to the proposed Draft Regulatory Reform Bill, 2013 which aims to make regulators across key infrastructure sectors accountable to the Parliament besides giving them power of licensing."The Prime Minister's Office gave its go-ahead to the bill last week. The bill is now up for consultation with various stakeholders and once it is finalised it may be taken up in Parliament during the budget session," a senior official told ET, requesting anonymity. The bill aims to fill a lacuna since India does not have a law to monitor the functioning of a large number of regulatory authorities existing in the country. The draft bill will apply to key sectors such as electricity, oil and gas, coal, telecommunications and internet, broadcasting and cable television, posts, airports, ports, waterways, railways, mass rapid transit system, highways and water supply, and sanitation." The overall operation of the regulator will be subject to scrutiny by the Parliament on a yearly basis. 
Three days later, the Indian Express makes a unenthusiastic assessment of this development: "Given that the government hasn't been able to muster the courage to bring its regulatory reform bill to Parliament for the last four years, it is difficult to see how it will happen this time around, though the bill is now to be circulated among ministries for their comments. At its heart, the bill seeks to take away from ministries the discretionary powers to award and cancel licenses, and plans to give them to professionally run regulatory commissions which, as is the case today, will have appellate tribunals to ensure that those unhappy with the decisions get a chance to appeal them."

4th report on administrative reform (France)

In France the pace of public administration reform (PAR) is sustained by the regular statements from the high-level (interministerial) committee on public service modernisation CIMAP. The fourth meeting on 18 December has provided a status report and a list of new initiatives, with a focus on policy evaluation rather than regulatory reform. Page 11 of the press release lists administrative simplification measures for business and the public, to be achieved without legal changes. The Finance ministry also published on 16 December a short note on "complexity as perceived by business" and a series of graphs in ppt format. These documents confirm that the French approach to administrative burdens remains based on perception surveys rather than measurement operations. Another specific trait of French PAR is the priority given to improving internal communication with staff. This is the analysis developped by Acteurs Publics, an independent observer, of the new web-based consultation of stakeholders Faire-simple.gouv.fr.

16 December 2013

Rapport sur les charges réglementaires en Suisse

Nicolas Wallart, membre suisse de Smart Regulation, nous informe de la parution d'un rapport qui évalue les coûts de la réglementation dans 12 domaines en Suisse (charges totales, pas seulement les coûts administratifs). On arrive à 10 milliards de Fr. ou 1.7% du PIB. Le rapport contient également un paquet de 32 mesures d'allégement. Le rapport est disponible en français, allemand et italien. 
Voir l'excellent résumé officiel en ligne sur le site de l'administration suisse.

13 December 2013

China reduces State intervention in the economy

According to a newswire story dated 11 Dec. reported by The BRICS Post, China's cabinet has decided to further limit the approval role of the central government as part of its efforts to reduce intervention in the economy.
"China's cabinet released a statement outlining the removal of 82 powers from a number of central government ministries, including the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
The list released on Tuesday includes the cancelling or dissolving of power to lower levels on coal production approvals, permission of setting up foreign commerce chambers and checks on returning imported cargoes.
Facing a domestic economic slowdown and a still fragile world economy, the Chinese leadership has made transforming government functions a top priority to spearhead broader reforms.
The latest decision followed similar steps earlier this year that saw the removal of more than 300 administrative approval items, which the government claims helped to drive a notable rise in the number of business registrations."

11 December 2013

The rôle of parliament in better regulation (Paris conference)

Your blogger was honoured to moderate a half-day conference, organised on 5 December jointly by the OECD and the French Senate, on the rôle of Parliaments in the search for Better Regulation. The event, announced in a previous post, brought together MPs and staffers from France, the UK, Sweden and the EU to compare institutional competences and methods to start sharing best practice. The OECD outlined the issue in a concept paper, the first paragraphs of which are quoted below:
"The Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance is clear: "Ensuring the quality of the regulatory structure is a dynamic and permanent role of governments and Parliaments". As the institutions responsible for approving legislation, parliaments can exercise oversight and control over the application of better regulation principles for new and amended regulation. Through the public debate of proposed bills and amendments, they can help foster a transparent dialogue on the opportunities and challenges offered by new and amended regulation. Through the control they exercise on public expenditures and government performance, they can help monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation.
OECD surveys of regulatory management show a progressive move towards strengthening the role of parliaments in improving regulatory quality. In 2008, 15 jurisdictions (14 OECD member countries and the EU) had a parliamentary committee or other parliamentary body responsible for regulatory policy or reform against 11 in 2005. In seven cases, this committee or body conducts periodic reviews of the quality of proposed legislation. In eight cases, it conducts quality reviews of subordinate legislation. In five cases, the review process is guided by specific criteria. In six the committee or body regularly reports on progress on regulatory policy and reform across government. Consultation is also often an integral part of the legislative process. For example, in New Zealand, Parliament invites public submissions on almost all bills and these are considered by a select committee before it makes recommendations. "
The first panel was devoted to recent changes in the French approach to the matter, which shows that the traditional emphasis on formal quality of the texts and a concern for full enactment, is gradually incorporating a keener sense of regulatory impacts on the economy, parlty under the influence of the principles of smart regulation promoted by Brussels. The second panel introduced several foreign good practices with contributions from the UK, Sweden and European parliaments. This blog will watch for the publication of the proceedings, which will hopefully reflect the many sound ideas about how parliaments and governments can cooperate, by way of the use of RIAs and other methods, to enact better and economically efficient regulation. Videos of the key moments of the conference are already uploaded on the site of the Senate.

Conference on better lawmaking in Europe 30 January

Eurochambres, the European association of chambers of commerce and industry, announces an interesting conference to be held in Brussels on 30 January in the European Parliament: "What next for Better Law-Making in Europe."
For an update on the issues, see a recent article by EU Issue Tracker.

New steps to support SME growth (UK)

On 7 December, the UK government published a new series of papers under its ‘Small Business: GREAT ambition’ initiative. The policy, designed in response to feedback from small business, aims to support new entrepreneurs to start up a business and focuses on small businesses who are ready to scale up their business. It sits alongside the British Industrial Strategy. The launch of ‘Small business: GREAT ambition’ is part of a wider programme of activity to promote the support available for small businesses and includes the Business is GREAT Britain campaign.
In an attractive format, with case studies illlustrating each of the objectives, the paper tackles the various dimensions of the life of a company, i.a. finding funding for growth, hiring people, developing new ideas, breaking into new markets.