NALED (National Alliance for Local Economic Development) has dedicated a day of study and discussion to the dialogue between public institutions and private sector.
The conference, which took place on 29th June at the Hyatt Hotel, was dedicated to the dialogue between the public and private sector, the most important results achieved so far and the prospects and best practices that other countries can bring to Serbia, starting with the experience of European and US institutions. At the conference called “Public-Private Development Dialogue”, the participants compared the way in which private sector operates to that of the Serbian state and international institutions in order to strengthen the process and raise the awareness about the importance of a decision-making process and shared practices between the two segments.
The US Ambassador to Serbia, Kyle Scott opened the conference highlighting the role of NALED in promoting the dialogue between public and private subjects with the view of facilitating the improvement of the business environment and the greater openness of public institutions to the demands of civil society.
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William Maloney, chief economist of the World Bank for sustainable development, pointed out that it was impossible to foresee the next technological or economic shock, but that it was important to prepare an agile private sector capable of understanding the change of scenery, the need for adaptation and to seize the new opportunities that are created. The awareness of their organizational, technological and managerial limits is the first step for companies in their ability to evolve. However, contrary, the experiences of many transition countries are as such that small and medium enterprises are too rigid to deal with changes. Maloney supported export incentives and improved business efficiency, while noting that countries believe they should not create value but only cope with market failures.
Violeta Jovanovic, director of NALED, and Joseph Lowther, president of Cardno International Development and former chief of party at USAID Serbia Business Enabling Project for the period between 2011 and 2017, talked about the results achieved in recent years thanks to the dialogue between public and private stakeholders; results such as the digitization of building permits, the improvement of inspection activities and tax administration in general, the Labour Law, and bolstering operating conditions for investments and public funds. Lowther recalled three fundamental rules – communication, networking, and mutual understanding between the involved actors.
During the panel discussion on the regulatory framework, the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian Parliament and Chairman of the Economic Commission, Vladimir Marinkovic recalled that Serbia did not have a historical tradition in facilitating the dialogue between private and public sectors, which has been happening only from the year 2000 onward. Despite this delay there is, from the political aspect, a great openness and willingness to listen to the private sector across the spectrum, with a particular emphasis on local authorities. Simone Tagliapietra from the Bruegel Study Center in Brussels recalled two typical European Union mechanisms – public consultations between all relevant subjects, which start as soon as the subject is considered standardized, and the Transparency Register, which clearly defines the interests and objectives of the stakeholders. This eliminates the need for the formal involvement of private actors down the line, and clearly defines who and for what purpose contributes to the legislative debate.
Umea Gokce, an OSCE regulatory environment analyst, presented a research which highlights the benefits of public-private dialogue in Eastern Europe. In particular, this dialogue improves the level of transparency of public administrations and the quality of legislation as legislators can verify and balance different interests affected by legislation, draft cost and benefit analyses, and facilitate a dialogue between different sectors of public administration involved in the process, but above all, the legislators can count on the skills, points of views and ideas of the sectors accustomed to working with different types of logic in order to find innovative solutions and practices.
The research also reflects the fact that about 70% of legislation in the Western Balkans is still adopted without consultation. There is still a lot to catch up to which is an almost impossible challenge without a strong dialogue between public and private sectors.
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