Government steps up efforts to ease doing business

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s inter-agency task force on ease of doing business is ramping up efforts and speeding up reforms to improve the country’s competitiveness and remove bureaucratic red tape.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, chair of the National Competitiveness Council and the inter-agency Doing Business Task Force, said all instrumentalities of government involved in business regulations are taking unified action in simplifying government processes to make them more business-friendly.

“Remember that competitiveness and ease of doing business is number three in the President’s socio-economic agenda.  The executive branch, both national government agencies and local government units, and the legislative branch are working double time so that businesses could benefit from these reform initiatives,” he said.

Lopez said several reforms to improve ease of doing business in the country have already been undertaken and more are in the pipeline.

To speed up the issuance of construction permits, the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government and Information and Communication Technology, and the DTI issued a joint memorandum circular which prescribed standards and procedures in the issuance of building permits, certificates of occupancy and other construction-related permits.

The circular was in response to President Duterte’s call to simplify the issuance of permits by local government units in support of the Build Build Build program of the administration.

It covers single dwelling residential buildings of not more than three floors, commercial buildings of not more than two storeys, renovation within a mall with issued building permits, and warehouses storing non-hazardous substances.

In November last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also implemented the Company Registration System which significantly reduced the processing time and procedures in company verification and registration.

The system also integrates the issuance of Taxpayer Identification Number and employer numbers from Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG Fund and PhilHealth.

In addition, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista last month issued an order establishing One-Stop Shops for business permits which will facilitate registration of new businesses.

Lopez said all these reforms strengthened government’s efforts to eliminate red tape and are seen to improve significantly ease of doing business in the country.

He said a unified employee enrollment form and system would soon be implemented by the SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth for new corporations registered with the SEC that will consolidate enrollment of new employees at a single portal or at any one of the social security agencies.

He also expressed optimism that Congress will soon pass the Expanded ARTA/EODB bill which would significantly address red tape and expedite business related transactions in the country.

Lopez cited other important legislation such as the amendment of the Corporation Code and the passage of the Secured Transactions Act, which he said would improve the Philippines’ ranking in Starting a Business and Getting Credit indicators of the Doing Business Survey.

He said reforms are likewise needed in the judicial branch, such as the full implementation of the e-Court system by the Supreme Court which will enhance the Philippines’ Enforcing Contracts scores.

“We are looking forward to the issuance by the Supreme Court of the guidelines on e-notarization also expected to create positive results in the competitiveness ranking,” he said.

The Philippines dropped 14 notches to No. 113 in the Doing Business Report published by World Bank-International Finance Corp. last year.

Lopez said the country remains bullish at being able to leapfrog in the Doing Business Report rankings before the Duterte administration ends its term as reforms are being lined up to simplify doing business in the country.

“Reforms must happen across government to achieve our goal to become top 20 percent in world rankings by 2020,” he said.





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