A 2-day Capacity Building Seminar on Regulatory Reform was held on 24 – 25 November 2005 in Tunis. The Seminar brought together a limited number of invited Arab and OECD experts to reflect on the outcomes of the first round of Working Group meetings and plan concrete steps for the next phase of the Initiative in the fields of public service delivery, regulatory reform and administrative simplification.
The seminar marked the start of the stocktaking and action-plan process for Working Group 4 in Tunisia with regard to regulatory reform issues. Its aim was to provide initial OECD (secretariat and delegates) thematic input, generate a discussion with the Tunisian actors and work on the stocktaking (on the basis of a focused questionnaire) in view of developing action plan proposals, pilot projects and outputs that could be used by several countries on a regional basis. It was thus a test of a format that could be expanded and replicated in other participating MENA countries.
The meeting was attended by 21 delegates from the Tunisian national government and policy experts from the Regulatory Policies Division of the OECD Secretariat as well as OECD delegates from France and Switzerland.
The seminar agreed on the following draft proposals for actions:
1. Promote instruments to improve regulatory quality:
design and set up a 6-month trial for ex-ante assessment of a selected number of regulations. Following the presentation by Switzerland in the Tunis seminar, this could take the form of the Swiss "message" formula on a certain number of bills submitted to Parliament. A specific focus could be the assessment of conformity with EU regulations. The approach would not be a simple transfer of OECD’s Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) but would be an adoption of policy design elements appropriate for the Tunisian case.
develop a training programme for "juri-linguistes": An important gap has been identified in Tunisia with regard to horizontal capacity to improve legal clarity and regulatory quality when texts are drafted in Arabic (vocabulary and conceptual as well as economic issues), and/or in French and English, simultaneously or sequentially This could be carried out in co-operation with the Université de Tunis El Manar which has been involved in the GfD work in Tunisia. Such a programme could have wider regional applicability, and would have a measurable impact on conditions for investment.
Draft a dictionary of legal terms (French, Tunisian and modern standard Arabic) to clarify the use of terms in legal texts.
Set up an internet site to explain laws from the user’s perspective in plain language (as opposed to the legal conceptual logic).
Undertake a feasibility study for a central unit for regulatory quality in Tunisia.
Further improve the homologation of administrative forms, and the management of those forms through an internet driven database. This could be undertaken through a renewal of the co-ordination that had taken place with CERFA (France).
Provide a feasibility study to design a comprehensive ITC framework to improve the archival storage and accessibility of laws and decrees.
2. Draft and apply a charter for legal and regulatory quality: Tunisian Civil Servants would work with the OECD secretariat on a draft that could be presented for discussion at the April 25 meeting of the focus group in Paris. This regional meeting would then also consider whether other Arab countries are interested to develop similar national charters, and whether a regional charter (or a check-list for Arab national charters) could be established.
3. Provide the Tunisian data for specific sectoral regulation that could be expanded to include several countries, following an adapted version of the OECD Red Tape Scoreboard and including indicators for the costs of regulation.