The Fourth Regional Meeting of the GfD Working Group on Public Service Delivery, Public Private Partnerships and Regulatory Reform was held in Amman, Jordan, on 29 April 2008. This event was organised under the Patronage of the Prime Ministry of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in cooperation with the Executive Privatisation Commission, the Ministry of Justice of Jordan and the OECD.
H.E. Mr. Ayman Odeh, Minister of Justice in Jordan chaired and opened the meeting. Around 80 participants attended this meeting. Nine MENA delegations were represented: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine National Authority, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen. OECD countries were represented by delegates from Korea, Netherlands and Switzerland.
The Working Group IV on Public Service Delivery, Public Private Partnerships and Regulatory Reform chaired by Tunisia and co-chaired by Canada, UK and Italy, intends to support in improving the delivery of public services, the arrangements of public-private partnerships and the design and implementation of regulatory reform in Arab countries. The objective of the meeting was to (1) provide an opportunity to delegates to present recent developments and on-going activities on public service delivery, public-private partnerships and regulatory reform in their countries, (2) identify priorities and shape the future programme of work in the framework of the GfD Working Group IV.
The meeting was opened by H.E. Mr. Ayman Odeh, Minister of Justice in Jordan, Mr. Kheireddine Ben Soltane, Legal and Legislative Advisor to the Government of Tunisia, representing the chair of this GfD Working Group, and Mr. Josef Konvitz, Head of the OECD Regulatory Policy Division.
The main session of the meeting had two rounds of interventions. The first one gave the opportunity to delegates to present their countries’ current developments and on-going activities on public service delivery, public-private partnerships and regulatory reform, identifying priorities and future activities to be implemented in the framework of the GfD Initiative. In the second round, the OECD secretariat presented different modalities of co-operation envisaged in the second phase of the GfD Initiative, following the results of the last ministerial meeting, such as Joint Learning activities, which bring peer to peer policy experience exchanges to enhance co-operation and capacity building.
During the wrap up session, Arab countries expressed their commitment to the initiative and defined demands on policy issues such as: legal drafting and institutional capacities in introducing high quality regulation; the support to on-going whole-of-government activities on regulatory reform; the principles of Regulatory Impact Analysis and its benefits in the region.
Outcomes and guidance for future work
The OECD secretariat presented the strategic directions identified by the GfD Steering Committee for 2008-10 (GfD II) summarised in:
a) Deepening policy dialogue, knowledge and capacity building at the regional level;
b) Fostering peer advice and partnerships for reform at the national level;
c) Monitoring and measuring progress both in the public sector and the judiciary system; and
d) Anchoring the GfD Initiative in a regional framework of institutions and networks for reform.
During this fourth GfD Working Group IV meeting, there were some issues underlined as relevant to the public sector modernization in Arab countries:
a) Improving law drafting capacities as a pre-condition for moving forward with the agenda of high quality regulation. Drafting laws and regulations requires, among others, the introduction of standardised procedures to reduce uncertainty and discretion while producing regulations, the refinement of techniques that support drafters in their work, the use of ICT to make law proposals accessible to all parties interested, skills strengthening of those responsible for producing laws and regulations, and the reinforcement of institutional mechanisms to supervise and ensure coordination across the administration. In the short term the Special Session of the OECD Working Party for Regulatory Management and Reform will take its annual rendezvous on 20 October 2008 at the OECD Headquarters. This exercise brings in expertise from MENA and OECD countries in order to deepen policy dialogue and common understanding on regulatory governance. In the medium and long term (2009-10), a project supporting law drafting capacities is planned to be launched. There will be three main axes for this project:
i) Improving institutional capacities for law drafting
ii) The dissemination of guidelines and manuals for law drafting,
ii) Training activities and methodologies for improving law drafting skills.
b) Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) is used by governments to study the effects of regulation on the economy and the society. The principles of RIA promote the use of evidence-based mechanisms for the creation and amendment of rules. These mechanisms allow regulation to match realistically concrete needs, and offer the possibility of enhancing regulatory efficiency and effectiveness. A workshop or a short training focused on the creation of capacities to implement the principles of RIA is on the working group’s agenda for the near future.
c) Strengthen institutions dealing with regulatory quality. It is planned to anchor the work on regulatory reform in the region with the creation of a Regional Centre of Expertise on Regulatory Quality. This regional centre could promote regulatory expertise in the Arab region by organising training and providing manuals and guidelines for sound regulatory management. The chair of this working group, Tunisia, has offered to host this institution.
d) Administrative simplification, or cutting red tape, is one of the most dynamic and prevalent policy tools to undertake regulatory reform. Regulations determining administrative procedures need to be simplified in order to improve the business environment of an economy. In this area, the working group envisages two implementation approaches: firstly, a technical meeting could be organised inviting countries to develop or apply an administrative simplification strategy. Secondly, Joint Learning Studies on administrative simplification could enhance the capacities of a specific country, and facilitate the sharing of expertise through a peer to peer learning process. This work will be done in co-operation with the GfD Working Group II on e-Government and Administrative Simplification.
The forthcoming Steering Committee will be reported on these advances to seek high political support and commitment to address these priorities in the future agenda of the GfD Working Group IV on Public Service Delivery, Public Private Partnerships and Regulatory Reform.