Lithuanian Opinion Leaders about Bureaucracy and Deregulation

In March through April 1998, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute completed the seventh survey of Lithuanian opinion leaders. The previous survey was conducted a year ago. The current opinion poll targeted 405 top policy makers, politicians, leading entrepreneurs, academia, and reporters. The survey covered a cross-section of public leaders that was designed to follow up on previous opinion polls.
Bureaucratic Hurdles are Changing
The seventh opinion poll was intended to identify opinion leaders’ views about how private initiative is hampered by different and constantly changing bureaucratic obstacles. Respondents were asked to assess bureaucratic hurdles retrospectively (in 1990 and 1996) and at the present moment on a ten-point scale (with 0 representing an absence of bueaucratic barriers, and 10 – total bureaucracy).
According to those polled, bureaucratic obstacles to private intiative have been worsening. They were estimated on average at 5.49 in 1990, 6.18 in 1996, and 6.65 today (in the spring of 1998).
The highest level of bureaucracy was reported by entrepreneurs: 4.79; 5.92; and 7.36 respectively. Their attitudes are entirely understandable bearing in mind that it is them who spend a lot of time dealing with bureaucracy. Politicians, who are in most cases initiators of different barriers and restrictions, were the most moderate in assessing bureaucratic trends in the country. Their estimates of 6.18; 6.39; and 6.23 are indicative of even some relief over the past two years.
In terms of age groups, the most sceptical were opinion leaders in early forties. Their indicators were 5.38; 6.44; and 7.38. In terms of political preferences, the highest degree of increasing bureaucracy was noted by supporters of the Liberal Union (4.18; 6.15; 7.25) and the Centre Union (5.72; 6.41; 7.16). Positive trends over the past two years were felt by supporters of the ruling coalition: the Lithuanian Conservative Party (6.34; 6.62; 5.50) and the Christian Democratic Party (6.08; 6.37; 6.16).
Ways to Curb Bureaucracy
Respondents were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of measures to reduce bureaucracy, with 0 being the most ineffective, and 10 – the most effective). To reduce the scope of bureaucracy, opinio leaders would rely mostly on “reduction in regulations and regulatory institutions. This measure was estimated at 7.33 points. “Cutbacks in regulatory institutions without changes in regulatory functions” was estimated at 4.35, while “cutbacks in regulatory functions without changes in the number of regulatory institutions” received 4.16 points. This shows that opinion leaders are for comprehensive and uncompromising deregulation of regulatory functions and institutions alike.
Grading Economic Reforms
Survey participants assessed the success of economic reforms in specific areas on a twenty-point scale, with – 10 representing the most negative estimate, and + 10 standing for the most positive evaluation. Accomplishments in the fields of debureaucratisation and business deregulation received fairly pessimistic valuations, – 0.58 and 0.31 respectively. Such gloomy attitudes are especially evident if compared with a 2.36-point assessment of economic reforms in general.
The lowest estimates were reported by entrepreneurs (- 3.15 and – 1.79) and journalists (- 1.84 and – 0.64). Politicians were again more moderate (0.74 and 1.62).
In terms of age groups, the respondents of 30-39 years of age were the most dismayed at the pace of business deregulation and debureaucratisation (- 1.82 and – 1.00). But the older the respondents polled, the more positive the estimates reported. Respondents of 60 years of age and over produced the highest estimates of 0.89 and 1.17 points.