Bureaucratic burden is one of the most discussed and topical issues. No wonder! Whatever we may want or not, each one of us meets bureaucracy and administrative obstacles almost every day – in our jobs, businesses, or personal lives. Sometimes, it is a routine, sometimes it takes a few seconds, and most of the times it is unbearably annoying. But unnecessary paperwork translates primarily (from the economic point of view) into costs. More paperwork means more time wasted. Time, which could easily be spent working or simply doing something fun.
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The fact that administrative barriers are unpleasant, especially for entrepreneurs, and negatively influence overall competitiveness of the whole economy, has been realized by the Czech government about fourteen years ago and they decided to act. However, as it turns out, oftentimes, the intention of the government (although with noble purpose) does not match the desired effect.
Yet, governmental strategy to constantly reduce administrative burden and its regular meathe surement is not set completely wrong. There are clear objectives, a clearly defined path to the target and well-defined particular steps.
After its last measurement of the administrative burden in 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic (which is in charge of the project of Reducing Administrative Burden) reported that the burden had fallen by almost 31.5% since 2005.
All right, but does the Czech society feel any relief from unnecessary and often irritating clerical nonsense? The entire process of reducing administrative burden in the Czech Republic started in 2007, and government has considered it a great success. The problem is that entrepreneurs and the public perceive the situation differently.
The Year 2007: A New Hope
The idea for a long-term government strategy was developed in response to a short study titled Report on Capacities of Regulatory Governance of the Czech Republic, prepared earlier in 2007 by the SIGMA – Support for Improvement in Governance and Management, associating EU and OECD representatives.
The report revealed four major recommendations in the field of regulation for Czechs:
Facilitate the development of better regulation tools by providing clear political support for the implementation of the Government’s Better Regulation Strategy;
To this end, appoint a Member of the Government responsible for achieving objectives of the government strategy within a pre-agreed timeframe;
Establish a “better regulation” for systematic promotion of a government committee or a high-level council composed of top officials from top management of ministries and other central administrative authorities who will be responsible for promoting and developing government policy to improve the regulatory process within each sector;
At the same time, develop within the central state administration adequate capacities to improve the regulation process and to use appropriate tools for improvement.
At that time, the right-wing government headed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party) took these recommendations seriously and decided to act immediately. It all started with the creation of a document called Reducing Redundant Regulation and Bureaucracy in 2008. The purpose was, first, to analyze and evaluate the situation, and second, to identify a way to reduce administrative burden.
Full Costs of Bureaucratic Burden
In 2005, the value of administrative burden in the Czech Republic amounted to a total of CZK 86.4 billion (2.88% of GDP at that time)1. Although the most serious consequences lay on entrepreneurs, they are still experienced by the whole society. Administrative burden has therefore been identified as one of the major issues that need to be tackled effectively.
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1 Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade (2008) The Government Approved a Plan to Reduce Administrative Burden by 2010. Available [online]: https://www.mpo.cz/cz/podnikani/regulace-podnikani-a-snizovani-administrativni-zateze/vlada-schvalila-plan-snizovani-administrativni-zateze-podnikatelu-do-roku-2010–43985/