Following the 2017 Doing Business (DB) Report indicating that the Philippines moved up four spots from 103rd last year to 99th out of 190 economies, the country’s trade chief expressed hope for the Philippines to reach top 20 by 2020 in the global competitiveness and ease of doing business (EODB) ranking, stressing the urgent need to leapfrog streamlining efforts towards automation of government transactions.

Sec Ramon Lopez at the 5th EODB Summit
Secretary Ramon Lopez at the 5th Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Summit last 28 June 2017.

Speaking at the 5th EODB Summit on 28 June, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said that preparations are now underway towards the creation of an e-government online system, as part of the government’s effort to improve EODB in the country.

The DB Report measures the country’s competitiveness focusing on the regulations, processes and time spent germane to the completion of the business life cycle, from starting, getting permits and credits to closing.

Preliminary programs for the said online system include the development a local government unit (LGU) “wiki website” that will feature business permitting procedures nationwide, the establishment of a one-stop-shop concierge at the Quezon City LGU and the creation of a Business Manual for Business Registration.

“These initiatives are preparatory to the creation of a government online system that will expand even more economic opportunities leading to shared prosperity,” said Sec. Lopez.

The trade chief also called on government offices to continue streamlining their business processing and licensing system. He said that the sector of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should benefit from the ongoing reforms in the area of EODB.

“The vision is to be one of the best, not only for ranking purposes but to really make it easy for both local and foreign businesses, especially MSMEs to register their businesses and get necessary permits,” he said.

“For those who have less in life, we do not make their lives harder in dealing with the government. Their business is to create, innovate and employ people, not to spend days lining up in government offices,” added Sec. Lopez, emphasizing that the EODB is part of the 10-point socio-economic agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.

These ongoing reforms must be embedded in institutions and should be translated into a more efficient delivery of government services, according to him.

“Instead of attracting people to establish their own businesses, some have shied away and were discouraged to continue due to the time spent and cost of money to comply with various requirements,” he shared.

In response to this, the government established the Doing Business (DB) Task Force, which is composed of 10 work teams from government agencies and the private sector to implement reforms in the business regulatory environment. Each work team came up with reforms and action plans to be accomplished as short- and long-term targets.

The government, through the DB Task Force and the National Competitiveness Council of the Philippines (NCCP), has undertaken reforms in the past four years to enhance business-enabling environment more efficient in the country.

Earlier this week, Sec. Lopez met with the New Zealand Embassy officials to explore possible cooperation with the Philippines on EODB. New Zealand is poised to share its best practices as one of the top countries in the global EODB ranking.

NCCP Private Sector Co-Chairman Guillermo Luz, meanwhile, called for an online revolution, emphasizing the relevance of the incorporation process of various government permits. He also said that creating portals for EODB, trade facilitation and quality infrastructure may prove to be useful in ushering the aspired-for improvement in the country’s EODB.

The 5th EODB Summit highlighted reforms implemented by the DB Task Force, best industry practices and plans to move forward EODB in the Philippines.