Last October in this space, in an editorial entitled “A Significant Initiative,” AmCham Taipei hailed the Taiwan government’s decision to extend the notice-and-comment period for proposed new or revised regulations. Previously a mere 14 days, hardly enough time for stakeholders to absorb the content of the proposed new measures and to formulate a comprehensive response, the period for notice and comment was lengthened to a full 60 days, matching the requirement in the United States as AmCham Taipei and others had recommended.
At the time, the Chamber further encouraged the government make the commenting process “as easy and user-friendly as possible, for example by creating a single centralized website that uses a uniform format” for communication regarding proposed regulatory changes, no matter which ministry or agency is responsible for the intended change.
Thankfully, the government has recognized the need for precisely that type of platform. The National Development Council, with assistance from the office of Digital Minister Audrey Tang, has developed a well-designed online portal called Join to facilitate two-way communication between government offices and members of the public on regulatory matters. Accessible at join.gov.tw, the home page of the website bears the aspirational slogan “Participate to Make Taiwan Even Better.”
As welcome as this development is to the local and foreign business communities operating in Taiwan, the Join platform will be truly meaningful only if both government officials and the private sector utilize it to the fullest. On the government side, the Executive Yuan on January 10 issued instructions to the government agencies under its jurisdiction to post all proposed regulatory initiatives on the Join platform (as well as on their own websites if they wish), allow the promised 60 days for public comment, and provide their overall response to the public feedback at the end of that period.
Now it is incumbent on business to help monitor how well relevant government agencies are fulfilling this function and to provide well-thought-out substantive comments – both to express support for constructive regulatory changes and to alert regulators to potential negative consequences or complications that might have been overlooked during the initial rule-drafting process.
AmCham Taipei has called on its member companies, especially those in highly regulated sectors of the economy, to participate in carefully tracking the status of new regulations through join.gov.tw and to work through the Chamber’s industry committees to help prepare well-considered comments for posting on Join.
Through effective use of this platform, Taiwan has an opportunity to boost government efficiency, promote broader participation in public affairs, and create a sounder business environment that may stimulate increased investment leading to stronger economic growth.