The Ease of Doing Business and Anti-Red Tape Advisory Council has endorsed the proposed amendments to the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 to add more teeth and make its orders to government agencies and local government units mandatory.
In a statement, the Council approved proposed amendments to the said law which include an expanded power to the ARTA’s empowerment and enforcement functions. This, following the Senate Budget Hearing last September 17 during which certain limitations of ARTA were raised.
The amendments are pursuant to ARTA’S mandate as stated in Section 8(f) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 11032 to “propose legislation, amendments or modifications to Philippine laws related to anti-red tape and ease of doing business.”
In order to solidify its empowerment function, ARTA has proposed that its streamlining and reengineering recommendations be imposed in a compulsory basis to the government agencies as compared to its policies being merely recommendatory under the law.
“Making ARTA’s findings on suggested changes in the different agencies’ processes mandatory for implementation will definitely solve a lot of red tape problems. The real lasting solution is enforced streamlining and not just a mere recommendation. Our recommendation is for the EODB-ART Advisory Council to stand as an approving body for the recommendations of ARTA on certain streamlining measures that a particular agency or agencies refuse to implement. If the Council approves it then the agency should be compelled to follow,” said ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica.
ARTA also proposed that all covered agencies be required to allot a certain percentage of its budget for an EODB or ease of doing business plan and program similar to how agencies are being required to allot 5% of its budget for Gender and Development Program.
As regards its enforcement function, while ARTA is mandated to monitor and evaluate the agencies compliance with the law, in case of non-compliance, the power of ARTA against said government agencies is limited to issuing a notice of warning to said erring and non-complying government employee or officials.
However, since non-compliance with R.A. 11032 is not among those enumerated under Section 21 of the law, no administrative or criminal sanction can be imposed for erring and non-complying government employee or officials. Thus, while the directive to comply uses the word “shall” which connote mandatory action, the absence of administrative or criminal sanction dilutes the complying power of ARTA to enforce its mandate.
As such, ARTA also proposed to include non-compliance with the law as a punishable act, administratively or criminally. Further, it also proposes that the agency be vested with subpoena and contempt powers and be deputized to conduct formal investigation for violation of the law.
With the news of a possible grant of anti-red tape emergency powers to the President during this state of national emergency, the Council also approved the anti-red tape emergency powers that could be granted to the President during a state of emergency which were presented by ARTA.