friday, 26 january of 2018

French parliament gives citizens the ´right to make mistakes´

The French government has officially acknowledged that to err is human for citizens when dealing with officials and bureaucracy.

Legislation passed with a show of hands in the Assemblée Nationale in Paris allows for the “right to make mistakes” without being punished. However, the government’s patience is limited: citizens will be forgiven just one error and only if made in good faith.

It will be up to the authorities to prove the person was acting deliberately.

Ministers described the article as the cornerstone of a wider law containing changes announced by Emmanuel Macron last year during his successful presidential campaign to foster a more “trustworthy society” and simplify the bureaucratic process.

It is founded on the principle that members of the public and companies should be considered to be acting in good faith until proven otherwise.

An example given was that if the authorities discovered an individual or business had made a genuine mistake in a tax return, the default interest imposed would be reduced by 30%. If the taxpayer realised his or her mistake, the penalty would be halved.

French companies will also have the right to ask the authorities to check their accounts and fiscal declarations to ensure they are conforming with the law. Those who are not could be given a warning rather than punishment.

After the vote on Tuesday night, Gérald Darmanin, the minister of public action and accounts, tweeted: “It is a revolution in the relations between the administration and the administered.”

At the opening of the debate, Darmanin said the government had listened to French people who “like their public services but not their administration”. The right to make a mistake clause, as it is called, calls for “a state at the service of a trusted society”.

Dozens more articles are being debated on how far the right to make mistakes will be extended. Officials say it will not apply to people in public health services, the environment and security, or those suspected of fraud, including repeat offenders.

Proposed legislation to shake up French administration covers a diverse range of subjects, from the “exploration and exploitation of geothermic energy” and making charitable donations to churches, to removing the need to prove a home address when applying for a passport.

(Published by The Guardian - January 24, 2018)

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