Fabian Demicoli

Financial burden on enterprises from administrative public obligations and procedures €116,240,594

 "GRTU's
estimate of how much the public bureaucracy costs to business was always high
but this figure has exceeded our expectations, we are however still not
surprised. Government bureaucracy has never stopped increasing, if it was
physical it would be another Maghtab. you're doing a great job in identifying
the measure of the problem but not as good in monitoring and enforcement.The
mechanism is simply not there.

You still are afraid to publish the list of new
bureaucratic measures and with whom you say you have consulted. The message out
there is still bad. You forget that it is not only what you do that matters to
the public but what you appear to be doing. To our people you appear to be
doing very little." Sated GRTU DG Vincent Farrugia at this morning's
Malta EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) Meeting Chaired by the Hon
Chris Said and Head MEUSAC VanniXuereb, with the attendance of MEUSAC members.

The main item on the agenda was a
presentation on the technical study conducted by the Management and Efficiency
Unit (MEU) presented by CEO John Aquilina and Managing Consultant Dr Paul
DeBattista and this sheet was presented.

During their analyses of all pieces of
existing legislation the MEU found 400 laws and 2500 Legal Notices effecting
businesses and from these they grouped them into those which were correctly
transposed from EU legislation, those that were transposed incorrectly or ‘gold
plated' (national additions going beyond the scope of the Directive), which
amounted to 15% of total legislation, and the purely national legislation,
which amounted to a staggering 45% of total legislation. Their analyses
targeted both the 15% and the 45% with a total of 60%.

By following the standard cost model
the MEU was able to cost how much the burdens emanating from this 60% were
costing businesses financially. This costs the private sector €116,240,594, the
net contributors being VAT, Company Law and Environment.

Efforts to reduce these burdens have
already been enacted amounting to €8.5 million (278,450 man-hours) p.a. These
mainly are the result of further ICT development where returns under Company
Law and VAT and reporting requirements for the Inland Revenue can now be
submitted online. The burden of statistics was also reduced with shorter
surveys and reduction in the sample size.

By the end of 2012 another €9M worth of
bureaucracy will be reduced. This will reach Malta's targets of reducing 15% of
nationally emanating bureaucracy by 2012. The areas from which these reductions
will be taken are the Environment, Public Procurement, Working Environment,
Food Safety and Pharmaceutical Legislation.

GRTU Director General Vincent Farrugia
thanked the MEU for the hard work and stated that this is the starting point
and will provide a necessary guidelines for the work that is to be carried out.
There is obviously a long way to go but much more effort should be done to
inform the business community and the public in general of the work being
carried out. It is not what you are doing but what you are appearing to be doing,
Mr Farrugia emphasised, and the message is not seeping at ground root level.

In addition, even though Legal Notices
are accompanied by a Legal Notice check-list GRTU is certain that GRTU is
consulted on a very very small percentage of the long list of Legal Notices
published DAILY. This includes the ‘consultation' emails we receive. Somehow
the Legal Notice check-list confirms that GRTU was consulted when GRTU hasn't
hared a word, or email on it. There is however no way for us to check how GRTU
was consulted, who they spoke to and what presumable feedback we gave as the
Legal Notice check-list is only Cabinet information and a constituted body like
GRTU and social partner at law has no right to know how we are said to be
consulted. If these Legal Notice check-lists are so great and work so well why
are they so sensitive that they cannot be published? Why is the process not
transparent and accountable? The reason is only known to those public servants
that think so highly of this secret legal notice check-list.

The MEU has a lot of good intentions
but lacks legislative power that would give it teeth to intervene where it
feels it needs to intervene. The MEU want to reduce bureaucracy but the pile
keeps increasing daily, and the reason is simple, no Government department or
public servant that in the morning legislates on what he dreamt the night
before has an obligation to take the Legal Notice to the MEU to have checked if
the consultation and impact assessment were really carried out and measures to
reduce and not increase bureaucracy have been enacted.

We are fed up of the lot of usual
rhetoric. If Government really wants to make regulation work for business it
has to enact a transparent system where MEU can act as a watch dog on better
regulation, where departments and public servants are accountable and have the
MEU breathing down their necks if they are not business friendly. Public
servants have been trained and guided, now we expect a return on investment. We
are paying experts at the MEU to do guide the public service into doing better.

We have to start with making the Legal
Notice checklist public and make it obligatory for any new Legal Notice or even
a change in the legislation to go through the MEU for scrutiny. This is the
challenge GRTU is proposing to the regulators that really want to enact a
pro-enterprise environment and help Malta gain its competitive edge. Let's see
who believes in the system enough to take up GRTU's challenge.

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