By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has identified housing sector among top five priorities for streamlining of its bureaucratic processes to stop a hemorrhaging P142 billion in estimated red tape cost.
At the Ease of Doing Business Forum, ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica presented a study “Modernizing Government Regulations Program 2017 Industry Regulation Review by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) showing that red tape cost in the housing sector was valued at P142 billion.
According to Belgica, the staggering amount represents wastage and losses due to duplications of processes, unnecessary documents, wasted time, productivity loss and unrealized opportunities from both the private and public sectors due to red tape among multiple government agencies involved in the processing of applications for housing projects.
The study presented also showed that to produce 200,000 housing units yearly, it would take the involvement of 27 agencies, 246 signatories, 78 permits and 373 documents involved in the processing of permits and licenses in the housing sector.
The study noted of 170 key regulations that have to be complied with. The regulatory cost alone of selected agencies amounted to P712,261, according to the study.
The other sectors targeted for intensified streamlining in 2020 are power, common telco tower, logistics and food and pharmaceuticals.
These sectors, which are critical to improving the Philippines’ ease of doing business, are proven to be teeming with red tape and pulling back developments of the domestic economy as businesses are discouraged due to difficulties and delays in the processing of applications.
Already, ARTA has set a goal that government agencies must reduce by 52 percent the cost of processing within 52 weeks by next year.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said this should translate to completion of processing of permits and licenses within 33 days to one day or one hour by next year. Under the ARTA Law, government permitting and licensing must be completed in 3 (simple) 7 (complicated) and 20 (highly technical)-day processing period.
All these efforts are expected to catapult the Philippines’ global ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2021 Report to 47th from the current 95th.
“Agencies need to start looking at procedures in a government-wide perspective and not merely through its own lens only. In Starting a Business, registration in the past was done by Securities and Exchange Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the local government units, and the social security agencies separately and on their own. This was without really considering the business registration process as an integrated system covering many agencies,” said Lopez in a speech at the forum held at the Philippine International Convention Center.
He urged government agencies to stop working in silos and need to start working together, from sharing data to co-locating, if necessary, and identifying procedures that can be removed, integrated, and simplified. The World Bank provides a rich source of best practices that the Philippine agencies can start studying and improving on.
“What’s more, agencies need to improve coordination and start tapping private sector resources, the academe, and even development partners to devise more efficient processes without comprising health, security, and environmental concerns,” he added.