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What is the best indicator for a regulatory transparency?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gutierrez (2003, paper here) tried to come up with an operational elements of regulatory governance.  He considered that autonomy and independence should be reflected in financial and budgetary independence and no free removal of commissioners; accountability is reflected through clear mechanisms for solving disputes, while clarity of roles and objective is manifested through the regulatory authority’s ability to impose fines and set tariffs. Finally, he opined that "..transparency and participation are operationalized by the existence of hearings for the setting of tariffs and other issues" (see pages 18, 19 and 24). 

However the argument that public hearing is the best proxy in determining regulatory transparency was disputed by Stern and Cubin (2003, paper here), who argued that it is too american-centric. Stern and Cubin argued instead that the requirement for regulator to publish their decision is the better proxy.  

Now the hard task for lawyers is in translating this into a legal concept.  First we need to choose which one is the best proxy. Should we obligate public hearing, or instead, it is adequate for the legal framework to require regulator to explain and justify their decisions? The devil will of course be found in the detail. Public hearing without adequate information disclosure is a non-sense. The legal requirement to explain and justify decision is also not clear in itself unless it is detailed further on how this should be performed.