SEC cited for ease of doing business efforts

Published May 15, 2021, 3:00 PM

by James A. Loyola

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has received special citations from the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) for its efforts toward improving the ease of doing business in the country.

In the Ease of Doing Business Summit held last week, the ARTA recognized the Commission as a “Doing Business Competitiveness Ranking Mover” for instituting the most number of reforms considered in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report. 

The ARTA likewise cited measures adopted by the SEC toward protecting minority investors (PMI), which served as “Big Impact Indicator” and “Most Improved Indicator” of ease of doing business in the Philippines, based on World Bank’s report. 

“We thank the ARTA for recognizing the efforts of the hardworking men and women of the SEC to provide efficient business registration services to the public,” Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said. 

He added that, “We share this recognition with other government agencies, which enthusiastically agreed to partner with us, make the necessary adjustments on their end, and help in the overall implementation of our streamlining initiatives.” 

The Philippines ranked 95thin the 2020 Doing Business Report, jumping 29 places from 124thin 2019, with a score of 62.8 from 57.68. 

The World Bank annually compares and ranks business regulations in 190 economies based on 10 ease-of-doing-business indicators.

The 2020 report showed the Philippines making improvements in three areas, namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and PMI.

The SEC said it helped push the Philippines’ ranking in the Doing Business Report, particularly in the PMI indicator, by requiring greater disclosure of transactions with interested parties and director liability for transactions with interested parties. 

The removal of the minimum capital requirement for domestic companies, pursuant to Republic Act No. 11232, or the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, also helped make setting up businesses in the country easier, according to the World Bank. 

The SEC said it continues to implement reforms that could further improve the ease of doing business in the country.

In 2020, it issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 3, Series of 2020 to extend the required notice of regular meetings for stockholders to 21 days from 14 days. 

SEC Memorandum Circular No. 12, Series of 2020 further promotes minority investors’ participation in publicly listed companies by directing such companies to secure the vote of at least two-thirds of their outstanding capital stocks before proceeding with the sale of their corporate assets. 

Meanwhile, SEC Memorandum Circular No. 14, Series of 2020 allows shareholders holding at least 5 percent of a publicly listed company’s outstanding capital stock to submit agenda items for regular or special meetings.

Moreover, the ARTA recognized the digital initiatives of the SEC such as the Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Company (eSPARC), which unified the Commission’s online business registration portals. 

The eSPARC is integrated with the Central Business Portal, the government’s one-stop shop for company registration processes and other online business transactions. It also allows for online and cashless payments through the Electronic System for Payments to the SEC (eSPAYSEC). 

Aside from eSPARC and eSPAYSEC, the Commission also recently launched an online submission tool dubbed as the Electronic Filing and Submission Tool (eFAST) for annual financial statements, General Information Sheet, and other reportorial requirements of corporations.  

“We will continue instituting reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business in the country, as we uphold our promise that it’s easy at SEC,” Aquino said.

He added that, “In close cooperation with other agencies and its stakeholders, we will remain an active and prime contributor to the government’s overall effort to make business transactions in the country easier and more accessible.”