17 January 2018

also published in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sees improvement in the ease of doing business in the country, with the implementation of the joint memorandum circular (JMC) directing local government units (LGUs) to streamline the issuance of building permits and certificates of occupancy.

For the first time, JMC 2018-01—jointly issued by the departments of Public Works and Highways, the Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and DTI—sets service standards for processing simple applications for construction-related permits.

This is in response to President Duterte’s call to simplify the issuance of permits by LGUs in support of the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government.

The JMC 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 nonhazardous substances.

As prescribed in the circular, LGUs are enjoined to set up a processing system that will ensure that applicants follow a four-step procedure in securing building permits—submission of application with complete documentation, receipt of the order of payment, payment of fees and claiming of the permits.

Processing time by LGUs is reduced to five working days maximum, while that for Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) permits is limited to not more than three days for building-permit applications.  The same number of steps and processing time are prescribed for applications for certificates of occupancy. The JMC also recommended a preformatted form and a uniform set of documentary requirements and a one-time assessment and one-time payment of fees, with the latter eliminating the current practice of separately paying for different construction-related documentary clearances in different LGU offices and the BFP.

To be able to comply with the service standards, the government is mandating LGUs to establish one-stop shops that will consolidate the processing of clearances issued by LGUs related to construction permits, such as building permits, certificates of occupancy, locational clearances, tax declaration, tax clearances, certificates of final electrical inspection, as well as those required by the BFP—the Fire Safety Evaluation Clearance and the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate. To be able to do this, representatives from the Office of the Building Official, Treasury Office, Zoning Office, Assessor’s Office of the LGU and BFP will be co-located in one area at the LGU.

Joint inspection teams will also be organized to ease the burden of applicants in accommodating multiple inspections by different offices before their certificates of occupancy are released.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who chairs the National Competitiveness Council and Doing Business Task Force, is confident that the recently signed circular will bring significant results in the Philippines’ ranking in Doing Business Report.

“We fervently support the implementation of this circular, as it strengthens our previous efforts to eliminate red tape. Now that JMC 2018-01 is in place, we look forward to improved ease of doing business and better performance in Doing Business rankings,” Lopez said.

Following the drastic process reengineering that LGUs will be undertaking as a result of the JMC, Lopez is also persuading the cities, especially those in highly urbanized areas, to start developing a Web-based system for online submission and processing of construction permits similar to the processes already being implemented by some Asean countries. This is also in line with the JMC, which enjoins LGUs to automate procedures, including the mode of payment, with the support of DICT.

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