Conference on Better Regulation and Competitiveness in the Western Balkans
The Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA), Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and relevant projects of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) active in the Western Balkans, held in Belgrade, a two-day regional conference on Better Regulation and Competitiveness in the Western Balkans, with more than 80 participants and 30 speakers.
Belgrade, 1-2 December 2016 – The Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA), Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and relevant projects of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) active in the Western Balkans, held a two-day regional conference on Better Regulation and Competitiveness in the Western Balkans, with more than 80 participants and 30 speakers. Participants were experts and practicioners from the Western Balkans and European Union countries, as well as representatives from the business associations from the region.
In the present post-crisis setting of slow growth, high unemployment and fiscal stringency in most of the countries in this region, the need for improving cost effectiveness and quality of regulation remains critical. Better regulation understood as the changes that improve the quality of regulation, provides a real opportunity to stimulate economic activity, unlock productivity and support growth.
In his opening address, Mr. Drazen Maravic, Chair of ReSPA Governing Board at Senior Officials’ level and Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of the Republic of Serbia, expressed his belief that ReSPA as a regional hub can provide support in the Better Regulation efforts. „During the last two years, ReSPA organized over 100 networking events, with more than 2,000 public servants who participated in those events, and with 250 regional and international experts,“ Mr. Maravic pointed out.
„Many times we have seen how important it is to have good and transparent regulatory framework, especially at the local level, where we have offices dealing with these issues. We have already seen great results in terms of attracting foreign investment and enabling economic growth at the local level, but also at the national level. For example, the result in the issuance of construction permits in Serbia is that now the process takes less time and the number of permits issued has increased,“ said Ms. Laura Pavlovic, Director of the Office of Democratic and Economic Growth at USAID Serbia.
On behalf of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Mr. Radu Cotici, Expert on Governance for Growth, Public Administration Reform and Anticorruption, said: „According to the Balkan Business Barometer, the private sector would like to be more involved in the development and drafting of regulations, given that they are not satisfied with the current situation. Therefore, the Regional Cooperation Council will make particular efforts to assist governments in implementing the best possible standards in this area and in improving regulatory framework to the extent possible.“
The comparative research on Better Regulation and Competitiveness in Western Balkans, that was supported by ReSPA, was presented at the Conference. The research specifically highlighted efforts related to the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) in the countries of the region. RIA is an instrument which assists to policy makers in assessing necessity of new legislative activities, and in the assessment of methods by which these activities could be best framed in order to achieve desired goals. Through RIA one identifies issues to be resolved, establishes goals, formulates options in drafting policy and legislation, and evaluates its impact on business environment.
Topics of the Conference were related to Better Regulation in the context of EU accession, trends in the area of Better Regulation on the global level, in the European Union and in the Western Balkans. Topics discussed included planning and consultations within governmental institutions, highlighting the best practices in the countries of Western Balkans.
During 2016, USAID funded preparation of studies on public-private dialogue in Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. Those studies were presented and discussed during the Conference. The conference also presented the results of surveys and studies of the business environment in the region. The representative of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Ms. Valentina Ivanic, presented the results of the 2016 Balkan Business Barometer research. Ms. Dragana Stanojevic, Director of the USAID's Business Enabling Project, presented the results of the „BEP Survey of 1,000 Businesses in Serbia“, and Ms. Amalija Pavic, representative of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Serbia spoke about the survey „Fourth Lap Time“ rich in important data on the business climate in Serbia.
The results of those studies, surveys and research were discussed on a panel with representatives of business associations from the region. The panel sent an important message for the promotion of dialogue between business representatives and policy makers at the national level. One of the key messages of this Conference is that the importance of regional cooperation should be emphasized in the field of Better Regulation and improving competitiveness.