PH Ease of Doing Business report to start next year

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica (Photo from ARTA)

The Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) targets to implement the Philippines Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and Efficient Government Service Delivery Reporting System before the end of the Duterte administration.

“This will be operationalized before the term of this administration ends so that whoever will in the next administration it will be easier for them to just continue with all the initiatives that this administration has started,” declared ARTA Deputy Director-General Ernesto at the ARTA Ease of Doing Business Summit with the theme “Doing Business in Action: Pursuing Greater Efficiency Towards the New Normal.”

The Philippines EODB and Reporting System is a localized version of the Ease of Doing Business survey by the International Finance Corp of the World Bank that ranks countries in their ability to make doing business in their respective countries faster and efficient. The World Bank, however, has discontinued the annual EODB report due to some data irregularities committed in 2018 and 2020.

The Philippine version also aims to assess the ease of doing business and efficient government service delivery in the country. It will be complemented by the Report Card survey.

Perez said that the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) is being finalized as agency signatories were given the deadline on Friday, Dec. 3, to complete their comments. The JMC will define the rules and responsibilities of signatories that include the members of the ARTA Advisory Council such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, Department of Information and Communications and Technology, Department of Interior and Local Government, and representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, Development Academy of the Philippines, WB, and Office of the Presidential Adviser on Streamlining of Government Processes.

Once the JMC has been signed, ARTA plans to conduct a pilot run of the survey using limited but most relevant indicators, such as starting a business, trading across borders, dealing with construction permits and registering property.

Perez said these indicators are selected because they are the ones that need focus for streamlining in procedures to make doing businesses in the country quicker and efficient. He, however, said that the indicators and pilot area maybe expanded after a year and just be confined in Quezon City as a pilot area to include other cities in Metro Manila and even outside of the National Capital Region.

Meantime, Secretary and ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica said the agency is now training its eyes on streamlining permitting procedures in the housing/construction sectors, and logistics.

This is after ARTA has implemented or reduced red tape in three other priority sectors. According to Belgica, a joint memorandum circular will be signed soon by agencies concern to streamline procedures in the acquisition of land for socialized housing.

ARTA is set to reduce the number of permits for socialized housing from 11 to 1 and the processing time from 475 to 108 days.

For construction permits, the number of permits required will be reduced from 22 to 3, and the processing time will be cut from 120 to 3 days for simple transactions, 7 days for complex transactions, and 20 days for highly technical transactions.

In terms of logistics, he said, ARTA is slated to reduce the number of permits from 209 to 24 and the processing time from 271 to 35 days by inking a JMC on a unified Rapid Pass.

These two sectors are part of the 5 priority sectors identified by ARTA under its NEHEMIAH Program as agencies infested with bureaucratic red tape. The three other priority sectors that ARTA has already implemented reforms are connectivity/telco, logistics, food and pharmaceuticals.

Combined, Belgica said the NEHEMIAH Program seeks to reduce by 52 percent the time, costs, requirements or procedures in the five sectors in 52 weeks.

For the telco sector, we reduced the number of permits from 30 to 8, the number of requirements from 86 to 35, and the processing time from 241 days to 16 by virtue of a Joint Memorandum Circular to expedite tower construction which we revised this year to expand coverage.

For Food and Pharma, we reduced the number of permits from 28 to 9, the number of requirements from 41 to 12, and the processing time from 63 to 21 days which is now integrated in the CDRR's E-LTO available in the Central Business Portal.

National Effort for Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies (NEHEMIA) Program, a flagship program for inter-agency streamlining which aims to reduce the processes, requirements, and processing time by 52% for each priority sectors.

With the organization of ARTA, just barely three years old, Belgica reported the Philippines is now transitioning from a starter stage to the enabled stage in the global classification of countries’ regulatory management system (RMS).

“For the past 20 years, the Philippines has been stagnant in terms of maturity of its regulatory system. With the establishment of ARTA and the implementation of its initiative on regulatory management system, the Philippines is not transitioning from the starter stage to the enabled stage.

There are four stages in RMS, the two highest are practiced and embedded. Countries under the practiced stage include Korea, Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand. The embedded countries are Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Korea.

RMS refers to a set of measures designed to establish a systematic and organized implementation of regulations and regulatory reviews for the improvement of regulatory quality. It is a set of special measures to augment the development and enforcement of regulations to ensure coherence, quality and governance of regulations are observed.