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Focus group with representatives of republic and local inspectors

2.11.2017. 00h

In an open discussions with inspectors, we have come up with possible solutions for improving the Law on Inspection Oversight

The first focus group, organized within the project supported by the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government (MPALSG) "Monitoring and analyses of the implementation of the Law on Inspection Oversight and Informing the Public on the Results", was held in Belgrade on November 1, 2017.

In order to improve the existing legal framework dealing with the inspection oversight, we gathered over 20 local inspectors from all over Serbia who are in charge of communal, construction and tourist inspection oversight, but also representatives of the republic inspectors from market inspection, labor inspection and administrative inspections.

Focus group was also attended by the Secretariat for Inspection Oversight of Belgrade, as well as representatives of Sector of Good Governance Development from the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

Today, we are here to improve the consultative process between those who are drafting laws and those that apply laws, with the intention of equating inspection practice and contribute to full implementation of the Law on Inspection Oversight, stated the members of the project team.
Equalization of inspection practice is one of the priorities that we should all put effort to, but for us to achieve this, it is necessary to that certain articles of the Law on Inspection Oversight (LoIO) are more concrete and better specified, it is important to harmonize sectoral laws regulating the work of inspectors in certain areas with LoIO and it is significant to organize continuous training of inspectors , especially in local governments, stated the participants.

Representatives of the communal inspections, in addition to stating the fact that the Law on Inspection Supervision brought the innovations and improved the overall work of the inspectors, but also the inspection oversight in total, pointed to the challenges they currently face in the performing their oversight. During the regular inspection, for example, we are obliged to bring with us total of 23 sheets of paper. If you multiply this number with the number of inspections per inspector within one day, which in some cases is up to 10, we come to a conclusion that the administrative burden of communal inspectors, who are working on site or in the street, is really high, especially bearing in mind that subjects of our oversight often try to leave the site, said the inspectors.

Inspectors have stated that there is a lack of human resources so that inspection oversight could be fully performed , but also said that some inspectors perform several different inspection oversights, because the inspections face the shortage of employees. In addition, we should re-consider a number of strict requirements that the Law prescribes, which are necessary to fulfill in order to become and inspector, stated the participants.

The checklists used by inspectors provide a good starting point for risk assessment, but it is important that the checklist is well-formulated. We were not quite sure how the checklist should look like and we need trainings on how a proper check list is prepared, inspectors told us. What the inspectors also pointed out is that they are not sufficiently familiar with the performance of proper risk assessment and that it would be helpful to organize professional training on risk assessment.
Participants also articulated that it would be helpful if they had a methodology for risk assessment.

The inspectors pointed out to the deadlines related to the adoption of annual inspection plans, which are defined by the Law on Inspection Oversight (October 15). This date should be re-considered so that it is in line with the budgetary calendar, indicated inspectors.

Discussing the issue of informing oversighted subjects on the Law on Inspection Supervision, the inspectors mentioned that the subjects are familiar with the Law. The most common way inspectors inform oversighted entities and subjects about the stand points and views of inspections and news in inspection oversight is via web pages. However, when there is a need, round tables are organized so that everyone can get to know the legal obligations better, stated the participants of focus group.

The Law on Inspection Oversight acknowledge the inspectors right to legitimize the ones supervised. However, practically, this is difficult to achieve, since controlled subjects almost never give personal identification documents to inspectors. The only way to deal with this problem is to have assistance of police. But on the issue of police assistance, we should also think of the ways how to improve this cooperation, inspectors pointed out.

The next step in the improvement of the Law on Inspection Oversight is the organization of one more focus group, but this time with the representatives of the economy.

The results of the work and findings within the focus groups, as well as the findings collected from 368 questionnaires received from 104 towns and municipalities and 8 republican inspections, will serve as a good basis for a comprehensive analysis and formulation of proposals for the improvement of the Law on Inspection Oversight and its application.