EDITORIAL – Progress vs red tape
(The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2016 - 9:00am

People who have dealt with the government may be puzzled by news reports that 99 percent of several agencies delivering frontline services had passed the latest test on red tape conducted by the Civil Service Commission. Of the 1,114 offices in the CSC study, 353 even obtained “excellent” ratings while 697 received “good” marks, with only 15 failing the test.

The release of the list can serve as an encouragement to strive for excellence in rendering public service. The ratings reward exemplary service and, if sustained, the encouragement can plant the seeds of a meritocracy in a culture where connections often trump performance.

The CSC, however, may have to explain better its rating methodology. The commission has been conducting the Anti-Red Tape Act Report Card Survey, and those who fail the test undergo workshops and orientation for service improvement under its Service Delivery Excellence Program. Offices that fail the survey can pass subsequent tests. Assessments were based on reports from the public lodged through the Contact Center ng Bayan, a call center managed by the CSC.

Covered by the latest survey were the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Government Service Insurance System, Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, Land Registration Authority, Land Transportation Office, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Professional Regulation Commission, Philippine Statistics Authority-National Statistics Office and the Social Security System, 46 first-class cities and 51 branches of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Perhaps all the drivers who have waited for months for their license cards and the motorists still waiting for vehicle license plates did not submit inputs to the Contact Center. Neither did the businessmen, including micro-entrepreneurs, who have shut down operations or given up trying to operate by the rules after running through a gauntlet of red tape in certain city governments.

Red tape opens opportunities for corruption, and eradicating it has been a tough challenge even for the administration that has vowed to tread the straight path. In recent years, the Philippines has seen some improvement in its ranking in international surveys on ease of doing business, but the country still trails many of its Asian neighbors. It’s no coincidence that those neighbors are more prosperous and attract more investments than the Philippines.

Among the biggest disincentives to business is red tape. Getting a pat on the back through the CSC program is a welcome carrot for cutting red tape, but more must be done to eliminate this blight.

ANTI-RED TAPE ACT REPORT CARD SURVEY BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION CONTACT CENTER GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM HOME DEVELOPMENT MUTUAL FUND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE PHILIPPINE HEALTH INSURANCE CORP PHILIPPINE STATISTICS AUTHORITY-NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE AND THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM
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