Anti-red tape measures must be relentless, intensified  

Published July 6, 2022, 12:02 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Red tape, as defined by the dictionary, is an “official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity, which results in delay or inaction.” A lot of people may not be aware of this term but they have definitely experienced this in a transaction involving officials at the city hall or a government agency.

Overall, there is nothing beneficial nor laudable about red tape. In fact, a study published by the International Public Management Journal found that red tape is “one of the most often-mentioned nuisances citizens experience with government. Red tape has a strong negative effect on citizen satisfaction.”

Thus, it came as a welcome development when the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) recently reiterated its position to continue — and intensify — the implementation of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Law and the Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 in the Marcos administration. An agency attached to the Office of the President, ARTA said it shall “conform to Marcos’ directives as (it) carries out its mandated empowerment and enforcement functions.”

“We concur with President Marcos that digitalization, together with streamlining and automation, is truly the key to making doing business in the Philippines easier,” the agency said. “We hope to be on par with other countries in the digitalization of our government services, which will provide not only an enabling business environment but a higher level of convenience for our citizens.”

On the part of the private sector, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, lauded the efforts of ARTA and urged the new administration to sustain the reforms that the agency has started during the Duterte administration.

George Barcelon, PCCI president, expressed optimism and hope that the President will sustain ARTA’s reform programs to ensure sustained business confidence and trust in government.  “The PCCI commends ARTA for having accomplished quite a number of milestones that benefited the business community.”

PCCI cited an example, such as when ARTA pushed for the automation of processes and use of the Unified Logistics Pass (ULP) to reduce the steps required from 209 to 24 and the length of time for processing from 271 days to 35 days.  Payment of fees for the accreditation or registration with different entities are now also made under a single window or through a business one-stop shop.  Barcelon also shared that ARTA proactively acted on the concerns of various stakeholders in the congestion at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon by considering the adoption of an online booking system to resolve the issue.

With the intervention of ARTA in encouraging the simplification and digitalization of various government processes, it was able to garner faster and wider compliance from the public.  This resulted in more revenues for the local government or agency involved as part of anti-red tape measures is also the elimination of the need for fixers and eradication of pathways for graft and corruption.

In these challenging times when businesses are trying to pick up the pieces to start over again, the last thing they need is to be entangled in the bureaucratic mess of government and suffocate from the weight of useless requirements.