Government launches "zero bureaucracy" drive

Latvia's government declared war on red tape and unnecessary paperwork August 20 with the launch of what it is calling a "zero bureacracy" initiative.

"In recent years, there has been an increasing negative impact of regulations on the business environment, as evidenced by the results of several studies and business surveys. Similarly, there is a lack of a unified and effective solution for the reduction of administrative burden in public administration, which the State Chancellery, as the coordinating institution in the reduction of administrative burden in Latvian public administration, has decided to pursue," said Director of the State Chancellery Jānis Citskovskis. 

The Ministry of Economics is also involved in designing and implementing the business improvement measures, as well as evaluating the experience and practice of several countries based on the principles of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The principle is simple enough: when submitting to the Cabinet a draft legal act which increases the administrative burden, the applicant (i.e. the responsible ministry) will have to simultaneously submit a draft law reducing the burden on the same target group by an equivalent amount. 

Essentially if more rules are introduced in one place, they need to be removed elsewhere, with the end result being - in theory at least - that the sum total of bureaucracy will not increase.  

If the new draft legislation entails new costs, it will be offset by reducing the administrative and compliance costs of existing regulation to the same extent, so that the changes result in a zero balance.

“The introduction of a zero-bureaucracy approach is of strategic importance - engaging economic operators in a particular sector in the early stages of drafting a legislative proposal will facilitate the development of sound, effective and user-friendly solutions... This will encourage you to think outside the box and to find innovative solutions, said Marina Blašķe, a consultant at the Public Administration Policy Department.

However, at the launch of the idea, compliance with the principle of a zero bureaucracy was given the rather vague introduction date of "late 2019". 

Initially, it is intended to limit the burden on business, with NGOs and "society as a whole" joining in later. Naturally, should the initiative fail to have an impact it will itself only contribute to the bureaucratic burden.

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