The Grey Book contains 100 most significant recommendations by businesses, local government and civil society organizations for eliminating the administrative obstacles to doing business in Serbia, and it represents one of the key documents used by the state institutions as guidelines in planning and implementing the regulatory reforms.
Over the past 10 editions, the citizens, businesses, NALED members and the expert public have nominated more than 500 initiatives for cutting red tape, and a total of 210 found their place in the Grey Book. Those that remained unresolved were transferred to the following edition, and nearly a half of recommendations (89) were accepted by the line institutions - 54 procedures have been reformed entirely, along with 35 more which were partially changed – thus significantly easing the work of citizens and businesses.
On average, the institutions annually implement 9 recommendations from the Grey Book. Though we may say that the tempo of resolving recommendations is not satisfactory, it I important to note that the institutions have accepted NALED’s publication and a guide for improving the business environment – after the Guillotine of regulations, even 80% recommendations from the Grey Book were also included in the Strategy for Supporting the SME Development from 2014.
The first steps
The Grey Book came into existence in 2008 as a result of NALED’s desire to assemble all segments of society and encourage them to engage and contribute to the common goal – building a better business environment by eliminating redundant and obsolete administrative procedures. No initiative before or after the Grey Book had dealt systematically with the administrative and practical problems faced by businesses on a daily basis, which led to Grey Book being accepted by institutions as a strategic document in planning policy reforms.
Late in May 2008 the public was introduced to the „Out of the Maze“ campaign NALED initiated together with USAID and B92 TV station. Citizens and businesses were invited to nominate complicated procedures and propose models of improvement. During June, NALED received as much as 245 justified proposals, 55 of which earned their place in the first issue of the Grey Book. Three citizens were prized for their proposals for improving the procedures of TIN assignment, construction permitting and tax filling.
The Grey Book is responsible for elimination of some of the proverbial bureaucratic barriers. Based on NALED’s initiative, to name a few examples, the wage tax and benefits are now paid to a single account instead of 12 different accounts, the institutions no longer require that an excerpt from public records is not older than six months, the employment booklets are no longer used, the health insurance card are verified automatically, and the construction permitting procedures have been significantly improved. New businesses obtain a tax identification number (TIN) in BRA in a much easier fashion and if they are micro or small enterprises they are exempted from the signage fee. Pregnant women and new mothers no longer need to collect dozens of different original documents and certified copies to exercise the right to allowance during pregnancy and maternity leave, new employees are now registered electronically via online portal of the central registry and businesses do not need to provide a seal to open a bank account and conduct a payment (Annex I of the Grey Book 10 includes the list of all 89 completely or partially solved recommendations).