NEARLY a year after launching a drive to simplify bureaucracy, the government has announced 50 measures that are already at work or on the way.
Thierry Mandon, the MP leading the project, said many of the 50 ideas detailed in mid-April will be in place by the end of this year. So far, the main focus has been on business but many other changes will affect individuals and their dealings with the state.
Mr Mandon said the government wanted to follow Germany and the UK which had cut bureaucratic costs to business by €2 billion and €1.5bn each.
The key aim was to create a principle of “no new costs for new legislation” – meaning the cost of new laws on business should be established and then an equivalent cut made. In the UK this is known as “one in, two out” and could help reduce France’s 400,000 norms.
Secondly, changes to corporation tax will no longer be applied retrospectively – so businesses can set budgets. In addition, the €50-€150 cost of payslips will be eased as they will be redesigned so they are no longer two pages long and with dozens of small deductions.
Small and medium-sized businesses will find it easier to tender for public contracts as they will no longer need to include a sheaf of 20 documents. Now simply giving their Siret number allows them to tender and then only the winner has to supply documentation.
Other key ideas are set out at www.simplification.modernisation.gouv.fr
These include establishing a right to deal with officials by digital means, such as email, with the principle that, for simple procedures, silence from the state means the demand is approved.
Many measures will also affect people’s personal lives and those in the area of health are either completed or nearing completion. These include:
- Notifying the state of a person's death need only be done once, via the government website service-public.fr - which will then inform the 18 social
welfare groups that need to be told.
- A database of medicines (cost, reimbursement, generics, dosage and uses) at www.medicaments.gouv.fr – in place.
- A site with details of local health facilities at www.scopesante.fr – in place.
- Publishing a guide to healthcare rights, at www.sante.gouv.fr – in place.
- Allowing patients to pay healthcare bills by bank card (due end of this year).
Other completed measures include smartphone/tablet versions of state financial sites enabling users to pay taxes and carry out other administrative tasks and enabling students to choose subject options online as well as enrolling in certain courses.
A service to help people value their homes for wealth tax (ISF) is now online for Paris and Limousin. It carries local sale values to help people make comparisons when declaring property values. It is due to be rolled out across France in the coming weeks.
Local authorities are also increasingly enabling people to use bank cards as an option for paying local taxes.
- A website carrying up-to-date water quality information for tap-water, bathing areas and swimming pools.
- The programme Dites-le nous une fois will reduce the amount of information people and businesses need to give for administrative tasks – some businesses must give the same information 15 times to different services.
Agencies will improve the ways they share data and people can send digital documents instead of paper.
- Cutting the number of government circulaires. (3,500 pages were sent in the first quarter of 2013).
- Scrapping 25% of consultation committees (raising the figure from the 15% announced in 2012).
While many of the measures have been welcomed, business leaders and journalists have pointed out that they do not tackle the underlying complexity of the law.
Businessman Rafik Smati, of Aventers, told the news site La Tribune that the Journal Officiel had grown from 15,000 pages in 1972 to 23,000 today while the Code du Travail weighs 1.5kg. He said France needed courage to tackle, redraw and clarify its laws.
Photo: Flickr/Alexandre Prévot