17 January 2018
also published in Business MIrror
THE government’s interagency task force on Ease of Doing Business (EODB) is speeding up reforms to improve the country’s competitiveness.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the strategy is to pursue a “whole of government approach,” where all instrumentalities of the government involved in business regulations take a unified action in simplifying government processes and making them more business-friendly.
“Remember that competitiveness and ease of doing business is No. 3 in the President’s socioeconomic agenda. The executive branch, both national government agencies and local government units, and the Legislative branch are working double time so that businesses could benefit from these reform initiatives,” Lopez said.
The trade secretary reported on the latest reforms initiated by the Executive branch.
In November 2017 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented the Company Registration System that significantly reduced the processing time and procedures in company verification and registration. The system also integrates the issuance of Taxpayer Identification Number, and employer numbers from the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG Fund and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In December 2017 Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista issued an order establishing one-stop shops (OSS) for business permits that will facilitate registration of new businesses. The OSS is now operational at the Quezon City Hall.
To speed up the issuance of construction permits, the departments of Public Works and Highways, the Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology and Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a joint circular, which prescribed standards and procedures in the issuance of building permits, certificates of occupancy and other construction-related permits.
A unified employee enrollment form and system will soon be implemented by the SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth for new corporations registered with the SEC that will consolidate enrollment of new employees at a single portal or at any one of the social security agencies.
The trade secretary expressed confidence that Congress will soon pass the Expanded ARTA/EODB bill, which will significantly address red tape, and expedite business related transactions in the country.
Lopez mentioned other important legislation, such as the amendment of the Corporation Code, the passage of the Secured Transactions Act, which will improve Philippines’s ranking in starting a business and getting credit indicators in the Doing Business Survey, respectively.
The DTI also noted reforms in the Judicial branch. The full implementation of the e-Court system by the Supreme Court is seen enhancing the Philippines’s Enforcing Contracts scores.
“We are looking forward to the issuance by the Supreme Court of the guidelines on e-notarization also expected to create positive results in the competitiveness ranking,” Lopez said.
Last year the Philippines slipped 14 notches to 113th rank in the Doing Business report published by World Bank-International Finance Corp. It measures the ease of doing business across 10 processes that a firm must undertake over its typical life cycle.
“Reforms must happen across government to achieve our goal to become top 20 percent in world rankings by 2020,” said Lopez, who is also chairman of the Doing Business Task Force.