“For ease of living, we need to redesign our regulatory architecture to listen to marginalised stakeholders”, CUTS International and SKOCH Group

July  25, 2020

Recently at the India Ideas Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that Ease of Living is as important as Ease of Doing Business.

To deliberate on mechanisms to foster ease of living for citizens, CUTS International and SKOCH Group jointly organised a webinar on Making Regulatory Reforms Inclusive and Sustainable.

Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, highlighted that at present there is a coordination failure within the government and processes adopted by the government in reaching out to external stakeholders are sub-optimal.

There is a need to institutionalise good practices like Regulatory Impact Assessment to be undertaken by dedicated specialised bodies like regulatory reforms commission at central and state levels which can reach out to stakeholders and arrive at optimal solutions.

These should include women, informal, and small entrepreneurs, and periodically review cost and benefits of regulations on such stakeholders.

Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group, noted that progress is possible only through negotiation and discussion, particularly with stakeholders having differing points of view. Implementing participative policy making process will be key to ensure ease of living.

He welcomed the partnership with CUTS International, a pioneer on regulatory reforms and looked forward to further activities to take the agenda forward.

Rishi Agrawal, Co-founder and CEO, Avantis Regtech, pointed out it is difficult to manage something which cannot be measured. At present, small and medium enterprises are subjected to significant compliance costs, coupled with inconsistent and overlapping regulations.

These are forcing them to remain stunted, which, in turn, adversely impacts our economic growth generally, and in particular ease of living for micro and small entrepreneurs, their employees, and vendors.

Jahnabi Phookan, President FICCI FLO, highlighted the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in navigating the regulatory ecosystem, while appreciating the support provided by government to such entrepreneurs.

Challenges with regard to accessing collateral free loans, market linkages, information asymmetry about government schemes and capacity building were emphasised.

She pointed out that supporting traditional and scalable businesses championed by women entrepreneurs would go a long way in enhancing growth and ease of living of citizens.

Ajay Shankar, former Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, stated that our regulatory system has been a hangover from colonial administration, and it is unfortunately assumed that wisdom resides with those in power.

The process of consultation with stakeholders is extremely weak and is captured by those who are relatively privileged, resulting in ignoring the voice of the marginalised.

He stressed, that there is a need to create a transparent and publicly accessible inventory of regulations and institutionalise practices like cost benefit analysis in letter and spirit to take into account perspectives of all stakeholders. Only then, it will enable inclusive and sustainable regulatory framework.

Arun Maira, former Member of Planning Commission said that we are living in a paradigm in which men, machine, and formality are given preference and other stakeholders are expected to meet their standards.

For ease of living, a change is paradigm is needed to focus on women, nature, and informality. This can happen if this we deeply listen to such marginalised stakeholders in the language they speak and understand their perspectives.

It was also pointed out that there is a need to review and implement recommendations of different expert committees on bureaucratic and administrative reforms to shorten the distance between policy makers and citizens.

The webinar was attended by close to 50 participants and was first in series of webinars by CUTS International and SKOCH Group on building a narrative for reimagining a better regulatory architecture.

For further details, please feel free to contact:

Mr Vijay Singh, Assistant Director (vs@cuts.rg)

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