Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa iyong lahat!

We would like to thank Director General (DG) Jeremiah B. Belgica and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) for inviting us to today’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Summit.

As the lead agency implementing Republic Act No. 11032, or the “Ease of Doing Business and Government Efficiency Act of 2018,” ARTA has been an integral partner of the Department of Trade in Industry (DTI) in cutting red tape and improving the government operational efficiencies. Ang maganda po sa ARTA, the law authored by super Senator Migz Zubiri, ARTA has given the power to empower and enforce. Narinig din po natin sa video kanina iyan, na-emphasize po iyan. Therefore, it can really make things happen. With the help of ARTA, we’ve been streamlining business processes and promoting business competitiveness, which would also attract more investments to our country and generate more jobs and employment for our people.

The implementation of this EODB Law and the establishment of ARTA, as well as EODB/ARTA Advisory Council, which DTI chairs—all this stem from a declaration made by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte: “Panahon na para mawala na ang pila.” Sinabi rin niya na dapat mag-adjust at mag-adapt ang gobyerno sa e-governance (o e-gov), and “to make all possible services available online.”

To this end, we have been applying GovTech or government technology to fast-track the elimination of red tape in the bureaucracy while making government services more customer-centric for our people. Streamlining and automation is the only way to move forward. By making government service accessible with a tap on your screen or with a click of a button, GovTech is the administration’s realization of its promise as well as the ultimate form of Ease of Doing Business. ‘Yung nandito na po sa cellphone natin magagawa ang transactions.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting “New Normal” last year forced us to re-examine our way of life, including our business models and processes. The community lockdowns, limited movement, and accessibility, added financial pressures, and drastic changes in work arrangements— these all resulted in major transformations in the business landscape. To adapt to the pandemic’s unprecedented crisis, we had to broaden our scope in digitalization and utilize the opportunities from the rising digital economy.

Though the pandemic threatened the continuous delivery of government services, we’ve been steadily adapting to this “New Normal” as various agencies improved their policies and guidelines in public service delivery. These agencies also streamlined their processes, leveraged technology, and human resource capacities, and put their services online to remain accessible to the clients despite community quarantines.

According to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), 187 agencies have active ISSPs (or Information Systems Strategic Plan)—and there are many others that are automating their business process. From SEC, BIR, BOC, LRA, LTO, BSP, to government financial institutions (GFIs) tulad ng Landbank, DBP, up to the judiciary with the help of the Supreme Court, and all other frontline agencies, especially ‘yung mga local government units na nakaharap po sa taumbayan. All agencies and LGUs are doing their respective extreme streamlining and automation

Just last month, DTI and ARTA—together with DICT and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)—signed a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) to support these efforts. Providing concrete measures in compliance with the EODB Law, the JMC entails a streamlined and improved business permitting process in the country. It also calls for a zero-contact policy for Local Government Units (LGUs), which would reduce corruption through the use of online portals.

What’s more, RA 11517 authorizing the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses, and certifications in times of national emergency, was enacted last December 2020. And last April 13, President Duterte signed Executive Order 129 creating the Office of the Presidential Adviser on streamlining of government processes. At iyan po ang pinamumunuuan ni PA Secretary Jun Evasco.

Siyempre, nandiyan din po ang Central Business Portal (CBP) na pinagtutulungan ng ARTA at DICT. This portal would serve as a platform where citizens and business owners can easily access the forms and requirements needed to register their respective businesses.

The CBP’s first phase has already been launched and covers corporations registering with our Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). This phase has reduced forms and documentary requirements, and shortened registration or processing time from over 10 days to at most 3-4 days. Thanks to this phase, employee reporting to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Pag-IBIG Fund, and Social Security System (SSS) has been made easier. Hiwalay pa po diyan sa ngayon ang Phil Health, Pag-ibig, at SSS. At ‘yung registration po dito, giving the list to employees, has been made easier. What’s more, it has linked business permit processes of 18 cities and municipalities. Ito pong 3-4 days ay aming tinatrabaho pa, para hopefully within the year ay maging 1 day.

On the other hand, the portal’s second phase would further expand the coverage to integrate the registration with other agencies while incorporating the “Philippine Business Number” (or PHBN). This number shall serve as a unique business ID that can be used in transacting with any government agency.

To cite DTI’s own digitalization efforts as an example, our Digital Transformation Initiatives have already put critical services online. And thanks to the system upgrade of the DTI Business Name Registration System (or BNRS), applicants can now register their business names online and obtain their Business Name Certificate in just eight minutes. From application to online payment. We made it simple to “Apply, Pay, and Download.” And all other frontline services ng DTI ay ginawa na pong online.

Because of this, the ease and positive user experience resulted in record-breaking numbers. In terms of fees, DTI saw a shift to greater online payments: in 2020, total fees from BN registration reached P525M, and 68% were paid online as compared to 35% during the previous year.

Another example is the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program, ito po ay microfinancing loans managed by the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), which is now available online. As of 5 May, a total of 40,647 loan online applications were received with a total equivalent of P3.8B approved loan amount. Tumataas po nang tumataas iyan. The online facility is from end-to-end—from Loan Application to Releasing—and the processing time is only 4-7 days. Kasama na po riyan ang pag-review ng credit standing.

As President Duterte declared in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, despite the pandemic, “the landmark Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act has been gaining momentum.” We can see this in the Doing Business 2020 Report released by the World Bank (WB), with the Philippines ranking 95th out of 190 economies. This is a 29-notch ranking improvement compared to our country’s previous performance in 2019 of 124th.

In closing, all of our initiatives and achievements to facilitate Ease of Doing Business channeled through a “whole-of-e-government” approach to use digitalization and GovTech will help us build back better in the wake of COVID-19.

Hindi lang makakatulong ang Ease of Doing Business sa ating mga kababayan para mas magtagumpay sa negosyo, makapagbibigay din ito ng ginhawa sa pangkaraniwang tao. This will range from the employment and jobs created from the investments coming in because it’s now easier to do business in the country, to being able to transact with the government with a simple touch of a button on our smartphones.

Through Ease of Doing Business, we will continue our country’s economic growth story from before the pandemic, and give our people a more comfortable and better quality of life!

Maraming salamat po, mabuhay tayong lahat, and good luck po sa EODB Summit!

Date of release: 7 May 2021