We cut the bad heads

"National Centre for Legislative Regulation” State Agency of Government Staff of the RA which is also known as "Legislative guillotine” was created in 2011, by governmental decree. Centre’s objective is to simplify the legal acts containing regulations and ease the burden on businesses and citizens. Currently there are 26,000 legal acts containing regulations. During two years of its operations, the centre is planning on cutting at least 30% and simplifying 20%-30% of regulations. ParliamentMonitoring.am talks with the director of "National Centre for Legislative Regulation,” Armen Yeghiazaryan.

- The centre has started its work with public services sector: Why? 

- Our management requested it, so we started from that sector. We had to start from somewhere, right? We needed to gain experience, so we chose such sectors which, in our opinion, were relatively straightforward and easy. Among many similar projects in the world this one is the only one which has started its work without technical help. We worked for seven months, after which international consultants joined us.

-What does it mean to regulate the legal field, what follows the change in the law?

- Let’s first understand what is regulation. First and foremost, this is about the relations between the state and the business and the state and the individuals. Regulations include licenses, permits, taxes, customs & duties, etc, except the defence, intelligence & security. Generally, the legislation puts certain burden on businesses and individuals – time, money and limitations. We work on making simplifications here and whatever is unnecessary, we eliminate.

- The regulations of which sectors have you dealt with up to now? 

- For example, the law on electronic telecommunications was discussed during the last four days at NA (the parliament). In this sector, three licenses were given, we leave only two which will be cut even more later on. As a result, the access to the market will be easier, the quality of services will increase and the price will go down. We have also worked at the electricity sector.

- Do the activities of your Centre mean that the current legislation needs vast changes?

- That’s right, because there is a conflict of interests, different state bodies want to have more regulation leverage; they want others to be more dependent on them. Why do you require a license for this type of activity, why do you consider these diseases with charge and others without charge? When we hear the answers to these questions, we feel that some changes should be made.

- How does the legislative body react to the work of your centre? After all, the centre edits the legislature’s work.

- So far, we have only presented two packages to NA (National Assembly), and I haven’t seen any criticism or any problem. Besides that, let’s not forget that the very government brings in 90 percent of laws, in other words, we deal with not only with the laws authored by NA but mainly with the bills of government. Generally, I am for simpler mechanisms. It has been seven months now that the National Centre for Legislative Regulation exists which tries to make simplifications.

- Could you say what percentage or which sectors of our legislation need for regulation?

- I will not indicate specific numbers but we deal with all the sectors. There is no priority for certain sector - there is simply a sequence. We plan our activities, and the government confirms our plan. Initially, it was decided that the centre will operate for two years, but most probably the period will be extended for another two years.

- Why, was it because the field turned out to be very imperfect? 

- And what is perfect? There are many countries with a similar body operating. They do it because they think that from time to time the legislation should be cleared. This is not a bad thing.

- However, the given name "guilliotine” does not instil optimism.

- Because we cut, but it depends what we cut. The guillotine cuts heads but there are bad heads too out there that need to be cut. We cut that very bad.

- Are there any complaints?

- Of course, there are. The people who lose certain influence are unhappy. For example, in relation to taxi licenses, the required documents became less but the number of people increased who lost some influence. It is normal.

- In near future, which sectors will you touch upon?

- The transport sector, there are legal acts regarding transporting cargo and patents.

- You also have some experience working at the legislature: you have been the chair of the Standing Committee on Financial-Credit and Budgetary Affairs. What do you think, is it easier to draft a law today or in the 90’s?

-Of course, now. The resources are much more now, there is a serious expert work carried out, the process is more structured.  

-But the vast majority of the laws the government initiates: is it normal? 

- It is like this all over the world. There are even countries with parliamentary republic model, for example Great Britain, where the deputies do not have a right to make changes in the budget.

-Here, it carries more formal character, because mainly the bills of the deputies, who represent the ruling government, are passed. The offers of the opposition are almost not  accepted. 

-But if it is a political offer, why should it be accepted: even though they can be passed and make it pleasurable for the opposition. Let’s not forget, that this is the government of ruling party, and in all countries the decision maker is the ruling party. Besides that, it is not like the opposition loves the country more.

-Throughout the years, have your political views changed?

- I do not have political views at all, I am not a political person, but rather a professional. I work for this country, work for the government of current president, the government is formed by the Republican party , and the Republican party is the one which makes decisions now: right or wrong – the time will show.
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