B.E. Assessment

The State of Regulatory Best Practice Initiatives in South Africa, SBP, DFID, September 2003

    Description
    SBP (the Small Business Project) is an independent specialist support and research organization that was established in South Africa in 1997. The group works in partnership with the private sector to develop and empower SMEs and to promote a policy environment that supports private sector growth. This report, 'Not there yet: The state of regulatory best practice initiatives in South Africa,' is the result of a desk-top study conducted by SBP for DFID. Its aim is to assemble the most significant published documentation of regulatory best practice (RBP) policy debates in South Africa and assess the state of play regarding the issue. A lengthy appendix organizes material under six themes, which correspond to six significant areas of policy advocacy, listed below along with key ideas from the summary paper:

    1. General policy environment: There is momentum around the idea of RBP, as demonstrated by the number of articles on the subject in publications such as Business Day, Business Report, and the Financial Mail. The Financial Mail went so far as to introduce a regular weekly feature in July 2003 called 'Regulatory Watch.'
    2. Organized business: Organized business is more aware of RBP than its social partners, government and organized labour. The SBP was involved in the planning process of the June 2003 growth and development summit, although the subject of RIAs was ultimately removed from the agenda.
    3. Political parties: The only major political party in South Africa that has officially taken up RBP is the Democratic Alliance (DA). Little is known about the status of the issue within the ANC, the presidency, and relevant government departments.
    4. Parliament: There are signs of an emerging RBP ethos, especially among members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on trade and industry.
    5. Organized labor: There is considerable resistance to RBP from major trade unions. But the subject may be well enough established on the public policy agenda to engage organized labour in the debate.
    6. Other

    Methods for info gathering
    desk-top survey

    Summary of results
    RBP has made it on to the public policy agenda in South Africa but acceptance of the approach is uneven and implementation seems distant. More resources are required to ensure that the blossoming of this budding idea.