The fight against ‘red tape’ in government

Published April 3, 2021, 12:10 AM

by Manila Bulletin

‘Red tape’ is a politically correct phrase that refers to over regulation, excessive and redundant processes that delay action and make service inefficient, resulting in high cost of doing business. This is not only common in government agencies, but red tape also happens in large private corporations.

In government, red tape is one big source of frustration among businesses in securing business permits and licenses. This has been a common practice “kalakaran” among national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs). Government red tape has been blamed as one major reason for the country’s inability to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Indeed, the Philippines lagged behind its peers in attracting FDIs and way behind in the Ease of Doing Business global ranking of the World Bank.

Thus, the passage of the Ease of Doing Business Act and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 ushered in a new way of doing business in the country. The law also created the Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) to enforce the 3-7-20-day processing period of documents by government agencies depending on the kind of transaction. The law seeks to expedite action by government officers and release of documents in NGAs and LGUs, alike.

Armed with the powers under the law, ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica carries a whip to ensure government agencies and officers toe the line. In less than 2 years after the issuance of the law’s IRR in July 2019, ARTA has made some remarkable impact. It has filed some cases against officials and made more agencies simplify their procedures.

Belgica has reported to President Duterte of significant reduction in government red tape.

According to Belgica, out of the 1,596 external services monitored and reviewed from 48 Compliance Reports of NGAs, 96.93 percent were found by ARTA to be within the prescribed processing time stated in RA 11032.

Not to disparage the works of ARTA, but the long and entrenched “kalakaran” in government agencies cannot be eliminated easily. Still, several government offices are dilly dallying in their compliance and some LGUs and officers are sitting on documents.

Belgica should replenish, tighten his whip and enforce the law more effectively because old ways die hard. Let’s call it a spade a spade, red tape is just another term for corruption in government.