More than five million obstacles

There is a problem of excessive regulation in Colombia. Obviously, I’m not the first to say this. A few years ago there was a figure that gave clear dimensions to the issue. As I recall, it has been estimated that since 1820 about six million laws have been enacted in the country, most of which are in force. To this organizational explosion of the legislature must be added the increasing number of decrees, decisions and directives issued by the executive branch, which according to a 2019 study by the Department of National Planning totaled nearly 30,000 in the first two decades of this century alone. . Provincial council decisions and municipal council agreements cannot be forgotten.

They are outrageous characters. The problem is so great that for at least four consecutive decades governments have launched initiatives seeking to tackle this regulatory epidemic without much success, as can be inferred from the findings outlined above. We cannot do without laws and regulations. Societies accepted that there are two ways of working in coexistence. One with conviction and the other with commitment. Hence, regulations, whether they come from national, administrative or municipal authorities, from Congress, councils or councils, seek to influence the behavior of citizens in various areas of their lives. For this reason, it is important that they achieve their goal and have the desired effect, which is essential to understanding the way people will act in the face of regulation. Psychology for years, and more recently economics and other sciences have attempted to decipher human behavior, and while there is still much to go into, it is clear that incentives, both external and internal, are fundamental.

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Some countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia have established behavioral perspective units within their governments that seek a more effective influence in building public policies and regulations. Unfortunately, we in Colombia are quite behind, and so far the inclusion of these criteria in the formulation of public policies is rather rudimentary.

For this reason, most institutions and authorities issue laws, decrees, decisions and directives without taking into account their impact on citizens. Without analyzing whether the rule will achieve the goal for which it was developed, or if, on the contrary, it will stimulate the behavior that you want to eliminate.

No, here in Colombia, many laws and regulations are dealt not based on the incentives to be created, but based on the response expected from the public, so the more moral and authoritarian, the better. And so we end up with a regulatory framework that discourages innovation, is based on the bad faith of public officials and puts up more obstacles than is necessary for ordinary citizens, hopefully at the point of hindrances for those who break the law to lose incentives to commit crime. To complete, since regulations don’t have the desired effect, the solution ends up being more regulations, tougher ones, to continue the vicious cycle and modular explosion we’ve finished. As long as the incentive perspective is not incorporated into the formulation, the regulatory quality in the state will be more of an obstacle than an incentive. Other countries have already done so. Let’s not fall behind.

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