Business registration made easier

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2020 - 12:00am

While its nationwide launch has been postponed, officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) say that the government’s central business portal or CBP is now up and running.

What’s so special about this CBP?

For those who have tried registering their business, whether as a corporation or  as a partnership or sole proprietorship, you know how frustrating it can get. Just recently, we tried registering a one-person corporation (OPC). It took us several days and that was just with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

However, you cannot start doing business with only a certificate of incorporation. You have to secure other permits – from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the appropriate local government units (LGUs), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas if you are going to be dealing with foreign exchange, the Bureau of Customs if you are engaging in import or export. And then you also have to register with the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG, and Philhealth for the benefit of your employees.

With the CBP, currently on soft launch, ARTA expects business registration to be accomplished in just one day starting next year.

The CBP is a consolidated platform that will receive business applications and capture application date involving business-related transactions. What is more important is that it will provide links to online registration with other national government agencies.

Initially, via the portal, a virtual national business one-stop shop will be made available to the public to make it easier to register OPCs and for those with less than five incorporators. For those who don’t know it yet, the Revised Corporation Code has done away with the requirement of at least five incorporators. So for regular corporations, one can have at least two incorporators. Those who have only one, meanwhile, can form an OPC.

But as designed, the CBP can accept applications for any company type, including stock and non-stock corporations, partnerships, as well as foreign corporations.

The CBP, however, can only be used for completely new applications and not for those which already have pending applications with the SEC.

So at present, applicants can access the CPB to acquire SEC certificate of incorporation for OPCs and two to four-person corporations, generate BIR TIN and order of payment, and register with SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth employer numbers. Additional features, including the registration process for regular corporations and e-payment for BIR services will be ready soon.

According to ARTA, this initiative is expected to also cut the business process registration to eight steps initially within 6.5 days from  the 13 steps in 33 days last year.

Currently onboard are the SEC, SSS, BIR, Philhealth and Pag-IBIG. But since the issuance of business permits is still with the LGUs, ARTA has called on all LGUs with automated permits system to start linking their systems with the CBP. I’ve heard from ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica that the Quezon City local government is the most advanced in this respect and will be the first one to link to CBP.

To help LGUs, ARTA has urged them to automate their system and adopt the Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System Software (IBPLS) developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

As explained, during business registration, usually one has to fill up entry forms provided by each government agency concerned. Since this process takes time because one has to fill in details repeatedy, the CBP system has combined the entry forms of each agency into a unified form which is designed to capture information only once.

ARTA said that by the end of this year, it will require  mandatory onboarding of trade regulatory government agencies involved in issuance of licenses, permits, clearances, and certifications for the import, export and transit of cargo with the Department of Finance’s TradeNet System, the National Single Window System that allows the online processing of import and export permits.

However, I am reiterating my call for ARTA and DICT to design the system in such a way that the concerned government agencies can make it easier for applicants to pay the required fees. Rather than limiting it to Land Bank of the Philippines,  whose online payment system is the worse, maybe they can start entertaining other online modes of payment by utilizing InstaPay, PesoPay, PayMaya or GCash.

Dust finally settles

The dust appears to be settling in so far as the issues raised against the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games last year are concerned.

Last Friday, Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino was reelected as president of the Philippine Olympic Commission (POC), which according to observers, is a vindication for him and should help lay to rest accusations of irregularities that have been thrown at the organizers of the SEA Games.

It will be recalled that his opponent, Clint Aranas, petitioned for his disqualification on various grounds, including conflict of interest relating to SEA Games matters, lack of time to be eligible to run, and a suspended corporate license.

Aranas was one of the POC members pressing the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) to immediately submit its audited financial statements on the expenses for the country’s SEA Games hosting, even though he knew that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) finished remitting its financial assistance only on Sept. 4 or almost 10 months after the event.

The election committee, chaired by Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV, threw out Aranas’ petition because as it turned out, the POC wanted Tolentino to remain as its president. With a convincing 30 to 22 win, Tolentino now has the  opportunity to  turn the country’s sports program around and lead athletes to greater heights.

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, PHISGOC chair who was in charge of organizing the 30th SEA Games, acknowledged Tolentino’s crucial role in the Philippines’ effort to regain the overall championship in the biennial sporting event.  He said that Tolentino’s reelection is a  vote of confidence from the leaders of the national sport associations for a more progressive and responsive leader.

As PHISGOC chair, Cayetano led the efforts to mount one of the biggest SEA Games in history. Unfortunately, along with the success came the accusations that range from irregularities to incompetence, which the same observers say make no sense given how the organizers managed to pull off one of the best-staged games the region has seen.

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