On 19 April 2018 the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on the Planning System of the Republic of Serbia.
In coordination with all the relevant institutions and through a broad consultation process (state administration bodies, the business sector, NGOs, and local authorities) which lasted for three years, the Government prepared a set of regulations that regulate the planning system in the Republic of Serbia (Proposal of the Law on the Planning System of the Republic of Serbia, and two regulations: Proposal of the Regulation on the Methodology of Public Policy Management and Proposal of the Regulation on the Methodology of Development of Medium-Term Plans of State Administration Bodies, which will follow the adoption of the Law).
The objective of the Law and its by-laws is to establish an efficient, transparent, coordinated, and realistic system of planning, which encompasses all the key aspects of the social and economic development policy and the regional and spatial development, coupled with an optimal usage of budgetary funds, maintenance of sustainable growth and development of the Republic of Serbia, and the realisation of the process of accession to the European Union. The Law introduces the system of accountability for results and creates the framework for the measurement of work efficiency within public administration.
Key elements of the Law:
- The linking of policy planning with budget planning: more realistic planning and prioritisation – a more rational usage of resources;
- Assurance of the standard of quality of planning, as well as the alignment and feasibility of plans through: a) a compulsory analysis of decisions with major effects, and b) adequate consultations;
- Provision of tools for managing the achievement of Government objectives through the management of operative activities of state administration bodies;
- The focus is on monitoring and reporting in order to ensure the implementation of public policies and the realisation of defined objectives;
- A clearer role and accountability of institutions within the Centre of Government when it comes to support for the Prime Minister’s Cabinet in the management and assurance of quality and alignment of development decisions and regulations pertaining to these decisions.
At the moment the development of a single, i.e. an integral information system for the support to planning and decision-making (funds provided through the sector budget support of the EU) is underway.
So far a number of trainings of civil servants and all the interested individuals for the creation and implementation of public policies and the regulatory impact assessment have been carried out, and in the following period there will be a large number of trainings in all the topics related to the implementation of the Law (funds provided through the IPA project).
- State administration is a large system with a broad spectre of responsibilities that aim to improve the quality of life of citizens, ensure key public goods, and regulate market imperfections in a way that provides for a solid business environment and the rule of law, and it has based its manner of work on procedures inherited from the federal state that disintegrated a long time ago, and that of the national administration that didn’t have a role of the public policy creator as the federal administration and local authorities did.
- The system of central planning through five-year plans was abandoned in the 1980s and since the end of 1960s it has nt had its full and meaningful application.
- In the meantime, there has been intensive globalisation, not only of trade but also of finance, information, the communication has intensified, old paradigms of the state functioning have been broken, which has all inevitably created the need for a different approach of administrations throughout the world – a transition from a rigid bureaucratic system, focused on self-sustainability and the toughness of the process to a much more flexible and participatory way of work that resembles the one that exists in large corporations and is focused on the satisfaction of citizens as major clients.
- All the previous has been further aggravated by ever more competitive environment in which the states compete for investors, trying to attract more quality labour and develop advanced technologies – thus it has become necessary to focus more on results, raise not only the accountability but also the measurability of results, manage changes more efficiently, and develop more efficient regulations that minimise costs of economic activity. If these conditions fail to be set up, investors will decide to go away and thus many jobs will be lost.
In 2014 for the first time in recent Serbian history a decisive and comprehensive process of public administration reform started, and that the reform of all the necessary elements, ranging from organisation, human resource management, the work of inspections, public finance management, digitalisation of the process and services through e-government, shifting the focus to services delivered to citizens and the business sector, modernisation of the work of inspections, the administrative procedure, etc. A natural segment of the reform was the reform of the public policy management and the regulatory reform as an integral part of the public administration reform that is to ensure the methodological framework as the substance of the work of administration – both on the central and on the local level – and this is the management (of change) and thus to establish the so-called governance, which is the manageability of the system to serve the interest of interested parties. This process is propelled by the process of European integration and an additional condition for enlargement of 2014 that relates to the public administration reform and economic governance.
In this context in 2014 the Public Policy Secretariat of the Republic of Serbia was set up. This move functionally completed the Centre of Government with an institution that is supposed to facilitate coordination and management and be a guardian of the methodology and consistency for future public policies.
Of course, all this time the planning has been in progress, though unregulated, and the need for regulation has been there all the time. The result of a lack of such framework is reflected in a myriad of strategies that have not always been implemented or consistent, and from the very start they lack necessary elements for the realisation.
These regulations are to eliminate all the detected problems in the existing manner of work and supplement the good elements we already have within state administration, linking them into one system. The main principles it sets out are: solid comprehension of problems, an analytical approach (but proportionate to the problem and resources), clear and specific objectives, measurability of results, alignment with the budget, participation and the linkages among plans and regulations that plans would affect.
The Law on the Planning System was published in the Official Gazette 30/18, and its implementation would start after 6 months. In the meantime, regulations that ensure its implementation will be prepared and adopted.