30 EU delegates in Gozo today for EUPAN meeting

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30 EU delegates in Victoria today for EUPAN meetingThirty delegates from different EU member states are in Malta for the seventh session of the European Public Administration Network (EUPAN) Learning Team on Administrative Burdens for Citizens. This meeting, held in Gozo today, is coordinated by the Better Regulation Unit (BRU) within the Office of the Prime Minister.

Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information Chris Said, who addressed the participants, stated that Better Regulation is one of the Government’s priorities. “The BRU is working in close collaboration with my Secretariat to bring forward the Maltese Better Regulation agenda, from which both citizens and businesses are expected to benefit. The work on Better Regulation in the past year focused primarily on implementation, consultation and building capacity of public administration.”

Better regulation is not about outright removal of such regulation. The underlying principle is that regulation is essential to protect citizens and businesses alike. Better regulation is the process of seeking to improve and simplify the regulatory environment.

Chris Said stated that Cabinet has endorsed Malta’s Better Regulation Strategy for the period 2008 – 2010. Among the key thrusts of the Strategy one finds capacity building of the wider Public Sector, simplification and better policy making. Delegates from the European Commission who were in Malta for a visit with respect to the National Reform Program, commented positively on the strategy which has been judged as relevant and comprehensive, confirmed the Parliamentary Secretary.

The Better Regulation Unit in recent months created a network of contact points between Ministries, Departments and entities, aimed at increasing inter-ministerial cooperation, thus resulting in improving service quality and efficiency. This Unit also consolidated the Manual of Procedures for Better Regulation which includes local good practice ranging through several sectors. This manual will be updated regularly on an annual basis. Moreover, work is ongoing on a €1.6 million project funded under the European Social Fund to develop the Maltese public sector and implement better regulation through dedicated support and training.

Other Government initiatives in connection with Administrative Burden relate to maximising the use of its ICT assets. An initiative to make better use of an internal Common Database is being pursued with the aim of providing a better service to the citizens by placing the onus for ascertaining identity on the department rather than the citizen. This will mean that the citizens will no longer be required to present hard copies of birth, death and marriage certificates.

The Inland Revenue Department has also done a good job, stated Dr Said, whereby the burden of filing the income tax returns has been removed on more than 70% of the working population. The Malta Transport Authority has also drastically reduced the burden for the citizens who have to register a car imported from the European Union remarked Chris Said.

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