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Figure 19. SMEs reporting administrative burdens as a major constraint on business performance

Figure 19. SMEs reporting administrative burdens as a major constraint on business performance

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72



OECD Economic Surveys: Luxembourg



20 days in Luxembourg compared with 12 days on average in the European Union

(European Commission, 2001a). Cost requirements for a start-up were also particularly high for individual enterprises.66 Another factor contributing to SMEs

unfavourable assessment of the administrative burden is the relatively high

number of procedures required when recruiting the first and second employees.

Filling out forms still seems to be cumbersome for both enterprises and

citizens. New legislation is not yet systematically subject to a so-called impact assessment, to measure the possible effects on the administrative burden. Forms are

complicated and electronic tax declarations are not yet possible. In addition, many

formalities seem to be unnecessarily complicated. For instance, citizens have to

submit separate tax forms for income (once a year) and wealth (every three years).

Furthermore, in surveys commissioned by the government itself, citizens have indicated that contacts with the administration should be improved by more flexible

opening hours, forms in more languages and a more intensive use of e-mail. The

government is well aware of the need for administrative reform in these and other

areas where the quality of services needs to be improved (by more customer friendly

helpdesks, timely responses to letters and more clearly written answers, for example).

Although the problems are evident, in Luxembourg solutions take a rather

long time and are decided only after detailed studies on all aspects of a reform and

after consultation of the many parties involved. Luxembourg has a special ministry

for administrative reform, the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reform

(ministère de la Fonction publique et de la Réforme administrative, MFPRA), which emphasizes

the need to consult the citizens, to analyse thoroughly their needs and the expectations of civil servants involved, and to reconsider the rights of the government to

interfere in the private lives of citizens.67 Although this thorough approach (“réflexion

de fond”) may contribute to the quality of the solution, it is also likely to cause lags

and complicate a flexible response in the future to unexpected circumstances.

Another problem is that many competences are still spread across different institutions (CES, 2001b). Better co-operation is needed between the different authorities,

who in several respects still operate independently from each other and have their

own preferences concerning security and confidentiality. In November 2001, the

MFPRA presented its new action plan for administrative reform and recognized the

need for a better co-operation and a re-grouping of ministries around important

issues. It also stressed the need to learn from best practices and benchmarking in

other countries. The 2002 action plan for administrative reform included a large

number of projects that are being prepared or implemented:

– A working group has been established to lower the administrative

burden for SMEs in particular and to develop measures to check on the

effect of new regulation on the administrative burden. A National

Committee for the Improvement and Simplification of the Environment

of Companies has also been created.68



© OECD 2003



Policies to strengthen growth in national income



73



– The government, in co-operation with the municipalities, also expects

to take a major step towards reducing the administrative burden on

business start-ups in 2003 by introducing one-stop shops (the guichets

uniques).69 The one-stop shop point should bundle formalities regarding

aspects such as the submission of professional certificates, registration

at the Chamber of commerce, payment of VAT and registration as an

employer. In the future, it should be possible to handle all formalities

for the start-up of an SME via the Internet.

– The government is trying to reduce the number of forms to be submitted to the tax office and the office for social security outlays. All official

forms to be filled out by citizens and enterprises will be checked for

readability, simplified and harmonised, and the number of additional

pieces of information requested will be limited. The implementation of

this project should start in 2003. On-line declarations are planned to

follow later. A study is also being carried out on single data collection.

– The service whereby citizens and enterprises can use a free telephone

number or the internet to contact the administration will be improved

in 2003 by extra courses for civil servants. Projects are underway to

introduce electronic payment and more flexible opening hours.

– Improvements in the quality of front-office services by the administration will be accompanied by an evaluation of back-office services, i.e. of

the internal organisation of public institutions who deliver them. In 2003

the government has started to promote processes of self-evaluation.70

By mid-2003, the MFPRA, which assists ministries that are interested in

such an evaluation, is expected to report on the progress made and

further steps to be taken.

In view of Luxembourg’s lag in the field of administrative reform, a speeding up of procedures and the many projects that are in the pipeline is desirable,

parallel to a speeding up of e-government. Priority should be given to electronic

declarations as a means of lowering the administrative burden and to the application of best practices to assess the impact of legislative proposals. For both

enterprises and citizens the administrative burden could be further lowered, as in

Belgium, by giving them identification numbers (identification keys), which would

allow the concentration of all information in one databank (a banque carrefour) that

can be shared by different agencies within the public sector.

Improved broadband-internet access would help Luxembourg to reap

the benefits of the knowledge economy

Use of the internet is central to efforts to reap the benefits of the knowledge economy, including by developing e-government (see above). While the

percentage of households with internet access is relatively high in Luxembourg



© OECD 2003



OECD Economic Surveys: Luxembourg



74



(Figure 20), broadband access, which is associated with increased use of internet

services and better quality of online experiences and capabilities of the services

accessed, is one of the lowest in the OECD (Figure 21). This is mainly because

broadband access prices are high (Figure 22).71 The major problem seems to be a

lack of competition both between DSL operators and between DSL and cable

operators. In much of the country, only one operator (usually the incumbent

telecommunications operator, Luxembourg P&T) offers DSL services. Where there

is competition, competitors of the incumbent operator are constrained to charge

high access prices by international comparison72 because access prices to the

local loop are high.73 Effective competition from cable operators is limited by the

fact that the incumbent telecommunications operator owns shares in the cable

companies and/or jointly markets such services.74 This has resulted in a situation

where only 38 per cent of households have access to two-way cable services.

Moreover, the speed of services offered [256 kilobytes per second (kbps) downstream, 64 kbps upstream] is not very high:75 this is less than what broadband

users have in most other countries and less than is available with DSL.76 This has

permitted DSL providers to offer only a low level of baseline service (256 kbps

downstream and 64 kbps upstream), conforming to the international pattern of low

service levels in countries where there is a lack of competition between independent cable companies and telecommunication carriers (OECD, 2003d). The



Figure 20. Percentage of EU households with Internet access

May-June 2002

Per cent



Per cent



70



70



60



60



50



50

EU average



40



40



30



30



20



20



10



10



0



DNK



NLD



SWE



LUX



FIN



AUT



IRL



GBR



DEU



BEL



FRA



ITA



PRT



ESP



GRC



0



Source: Eurostat.



© OECD 2003



Policies to strengthen growth in national income



75



Figure 21. Broadband access in OECD countries per 100 inhabitants

December 2002

25



25



DSL subscribers

Cable modem subscribers

Other broadband technologies subscribers



20



20



15



15



10



10



5



5



0



0

KOR

ISL

DNK

NLD

CHE

JPN

NOR

ESP

PRT

AUS

NZL

HUN

CZE

POL

SVK

CAN

BEL

SWE

USA

AUT

FIN

DEU

FRA

GBR

ITA

LUX

MEX

IRL

TUR

GRC



Source: OECD, Communications Outlook 2003.



Figure 22. DSL Internet access prices in selected OECD countries1

Monthly charge including VAT, September 2002

US$ using PPP



US$ using PPP



150



150



125



125



100



100



75



75



50



50



25



25



0



0

ESP IRL LUX ITA NOR NLD FIN AUS PRT ISL DNK FRA DEU NZL AUT BEL CHE KOR USA GBR SWE JPN CAN



1. Speed of connection at least: downstream 500 kbps and upstream 128 kbps except for Austria and Luxembourg

where the upstream speed of connection was 64 kbps. Connection speeds were significantly higher in Canada,

Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States. There were additional usage charges (beyond a fixed

number of megabytes per month) in Australia (1 000), Belgium (10 000), Canada (5 000), Hungary (0), Iceland (0),

Ireland (3 000), New Zealand (500), Norway (0), Poland (0), Portugal (4 000) and Switzerland (6 000).

Source: OECD, Communications Outlook 2003.



© OECD 2003



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