By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez yesterday raised his worry about the country’s competitiveness and has called for a drastic change of mindset where all stakeholders, government agencies especially, to overhaul the entire all business processes to start from “zero base” for the country to really leapfrog into the top 20 percentile by 2020 of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) global ranking where the Philippines ranked second lowest among ten ASEAN countries.
Lopez issued this challenge at the Ease of Doing Business Summit 2018 which focused on the theme “Shifting Gears: Destination 20-2030” at the PICC attended by various government agencies and the private sector.
In what sounded like a dressing down of government agencies snail-paced move towards eliminating bureaucratic redtape, Lopez said that by “zero base,” Lopez said this could mean “starting from scratch.”
He was not clear how this zero base strategy can be done but he suggested that registration of new businesses and other transactions are done on a single application form that is useful for all other government agencies and the local government units.
“It will become a single form like the National ID, that is a change in mindset. Until we do that we won’t reach the top 20 percent by 2020,” he warned noting the zero-base strategy should enable businesses to do their government transactions in “one day using a smart phone anytime anywhere and even before sleeping.”
Lopez noted there is a small window left for the government to implement reforms in time for the surveys of the EODB and achieve the target to be in the top 20 percentile bracket of the 190 countries surveyed by the World Bank.
He stressed that doing only incremental changes will no longer work as this will only mean incremental change in ranking. The situation needs drastic reforms to effect drastic improvement in the country’s ranking in the next two years.
Lopez stressed that to achieve the upper 20 percentile bracket in the EODB survey, reforms must have taken effect and felt by businessmen respondents by the first semester of 2020 because the survey is expected to be released in October-November of each year.
For instance, he noted that out of the 19 reforms the various government agencies have completed only 2 made it in time for the 2017 survey where the Philippines fell to 113rd from 99th in the previous survey.
Given this scenario, Lopez said it is a necessary that “All changes must be in by 2019. So the pressure is how to leapfrog to change by 2019, the heat is on.”