News Articles

Paper burden lighter in highly regulated Dutch society

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE – The Netherlands is widely known for its high population density, for its highly regulated society with numerous rules for every type of activity which set the bar high for, among others, entrepreneurs. The country is divided into twelve provinces and well over 400 municipalities (down from thousand plus a century ago) and numerous waterschappen (diking and water drainage boards), which all have a certain level of authority in society and contribute to paper burdens. Instead of increasing the paper burden, recent Dutch cabinets are aiming to lighten that load. A recent Internal Affairs ministry report has quantified this into minutes and euros saved. The average person now spends one hour less a year (was six, now five) completing forms and saves the equivalent of $24 in phone calls to bureaucrats and on accountants’ fees. In 2002, the Dutch jointly spent 100 million hours completing forms, ranging from tax returns to passport applications and permits. It was not documented if farmers who also must keep detailed administrative records for animal waste production and disposal agree with this government self-assessment. The country’s transportation sector definitely does not and laments that compliance regulations frequently can be compared to a cannon being used to kill a mosquito. The sector now has an advisory council to guide along the lessening of the bureaucracy.