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Government Officials Dont Know The Law

16.11.2009
A poll carried out by The Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFR), in cooperation with the World Bank, questioned regional officials about reforms to government regulations.

An unexpectedly large number of government officials did not know even the fundamental basics of the law, noted the CEFRs research manager Ekaterina Zhuravskaya.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents dont know what the time period is for denying issuance of a license, 51% dont know the maximum length of time allowed for carrying out an inspection, 34% dont know the minimum time period a license can be issued for, and 21% answered the question on whether it is possible to confiscate documents during an inspection incorrectly.

The researchers polled 1430 inspectors and leaders of tax, labor, and fire-safety inspectorates, as well as from the Federal Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Federal Service for Ecological, Technical, and Atomic Supervision, the Federal Service for Health and Social Development, and from the local administrations in 20 regions.

The laws are so badly enforced not only because officials dont want [to enforce them], but also because they dont know them and therefore cant, Zhuravskaya said. The study asserted that the reason for this is insufficient education and the absence of control over the changing knowledge of the legal framework.

Three-fourths of the officials polled approve of lowering administrative barriers and reducing bureaucratic red tape but do not support all of the aspects of the current reform. However, CEFR explained that the reforms have not made things easier for either business or for the government officials themselves. Sixty-two percent of respondents feel that the administrative workload on businesses has not changed or has even increased; the number also believes that conflicts between companies and government agencies have not decreased and that officials level of responsibility has increased along with the intensity of their work. More than one-third think that the reform did not change anything in society and 41% believe that lowering administrative barriers for businesses increased public risk.

Officials saw their main mission as defending society and the people: 70% considered their organizations main goal to be protecting people from physical danger and 39% from the threat of dishonest business. Ninety-six percent of officials are certain that the regulatory agencies will successfully uphold their missions. One-third of those polled assert that they are working to create a strong government, while less than 20% say they work to encourage honest business practices.

The majority of officials believe that corruption needs to be eradicated, however one-sixth say that small bribes are a necessary evil. CEFRs report found that almost one-third say that they try to be honest when doing their job but that it is simply impossible to do so in todays working environment. The majority of the officials polled believed that the main factors reducing government agencies effectiveness were officials low pay, incompetence among their staff, and a weak legislative system.




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