Doing business in Asia getting easiers
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 30, 2016

Setting up a business in the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, has become easier as it now takes half the time to do so compared to about a decade ago, according to the findings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).

This was based on the assessment conducted by the Apec Policy Support Unit that focused on the five priority areas identified by the World Bank in its Ease of Doing Business index, such as starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting credit; trading across borders, and enforcing contracts.

Apec said the overall progress of member economies across the five areas, in terms of making registration processes easier and reducing the time it takes for entrepreneurs to comply with the necessary requirements, stood low at only 14.6 percent. However, significant progress were seen for each priority area.

For instance, Apec data showed  there was significant progress achieved in terms of reducing the time it would take to start a business, revealing a “remarkable 47.4 percent improvement,” said Carlos Kuriyama, senior analyst in the Apec Policy Support Unit.

“The average time to start a business went down by almost two weeks from  28 days to 15 days,” Kuriyama said in a statement.

The average time to get a construction permit still went down considerably. Data measured in 2015 found that member economies reduced by 30 days, on the average, the amount of time to get these permits processed.

“Similarly, it is easier to get credit now, as financial institutions can access more information to evaluate credit applications. There was a noticeable expansion in the average coverage of the adult population with their credit information, going up from 48.8 percent to 61.4 percent,” Kuriyama said.

Improving on the five priority areas was deemed crucial in making a country’s business environment more conducive for trade and investments. Regulatory reforms are needed to make it cheaper, faster and easier to do business.

The Philippines, for its part, has had significant gains in streamlining processes to help ease doing business in the country.

Today, three government agencies are set to issue a joint circular that will strongly encourage all local government units (LGUs) to streamline and standardize their respective processes, in line with the mandate of President Duterte to create a more conducive business environment for investors.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Departments of Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government  and Information and Communications Technology  will be signing this circular. The goal, which was set by the previous administration, is three days.

“Hopefully we will have standardized processes for business permit and license application. The average number of days to do all these would be eight days, down from more than 30 days. Our objective is to bring it further down to three days by streamlining the number of forms and signatories,” Lopez said.

“After streamlining, the next move would be to automate the processes to bring down further the number of days from three to one day.”□