BOI to establish one-stop-action center for strategic investments

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual

The Board of Investments (BOI) will establish a One-Stop-Action-Center for Strategic Investments (OSAC-SI), which will serve as a single point of entry for all projects that qualifies as strategic investments, while government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs) are ordered to process documents within a specified timeframe.  

Executive Order 18, which mandates the creation of green lanes for strategic investments, mandates the  creation of the OSAC-SI within six months from the issuance of the EO. The order was issued on Feb. 13, 2023. 

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, who is also BOI chairman, said the OSAC-SI will help address investor concerns and issues. “It will also facilitate the endorsement of strategic investments to concerned government agencies so they can assist them in processing the licenses and documentary requirements they need," said Pascual in a statement over the weekend. 

Green lanes are in charge of expediting or fast tracking the processes involved in the issuance of licenses, permits, and other certifications for strategic investments endorsed by OSAC-SI. Further, these shall be integrated and should not be duplicative of the existing one-stop-shops or one-stop action centers. 

Likewise, the EO sets a timeline for the processing of documents. NGAs and LGUs are ordered to act on applications not longer than three working days for simple transactions, seven working days for complex transactions, and twenty working days for highly-technical transactions from the date of the receipt of application. However, the prescribed maximum processing period may be extended only once for the same number of days if it is indicated in the Citizen's Charter. 

In case of failure of the NGA or LGU to act, whether to approve or disapprove an application, it shall be deemed approve consistent with Section 10 of Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007. Further, DTI-BOI may endorse to the Anti-Red Tape Authority applications for permits and licenses which are not yet resolved after the lapse of the original or extension period. 

The EO further ordered the DTI-BOI to produce and regularly update a manual or guidebook for investors, which shall contain the list of government requirements for the establishment of strategic investments per sector. The DTI-BOI will also be assisted by the Department of Budget and Management to operationalize the OSAC-SI. 

Under the EO, strategic investments are classified into three: (1) Highly desirable projects, (2) Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), and (3) Projects or activities under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP). Further, strategic investments are those which are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan and are expected to contribute significantly to the Philippine economy by bringing significant capital or investments, contributing to the country's balance of payments, and improving the country's infrastructure capabilities. 

As part of the government's digitalization efforts, the EO also orders concerned NGAs or LGUs to enable electronic submission of application for, and issuance of license, clearance, permit, certification, including payments. 

For the purpose of efficient monitoring, the EO also mandates concerned NGA, LGU, and/or quasi-judicial body to submit monthly updates to the DTI-BOI reflecting the status of applications received and acted upon. Likewise, a Technical Working Group (TWG) is created to serve as an oversight body that will ensure the efficient and successful implementation of the EO. This initiative requires a whole-of-government collaboration as DTI OSAC-SI, NGAs, LGUs, GOCCs, and other government instrumentalities are ordered to coordinate with one another for assistance and support.

"This EO complements our efforts to facilitate a robust economic recovery and expansion. It promotes ease of doing business as national government agencies including its regional and provincial offices, as well as local government units are now mandated to create green lanes that will fast track the process of securing necessary licenses and permits for strategic investments. This increases the attractiveness of our country as an investment destination," Pascual said. 

The EO, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin is consistent with the current administration's Eight-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and serves as a crucial part of its efforts to implement policy reforms that will facilitate ease of doing business in the Philippines. It covers all NGAs and their regional and provincial offices, government-owned or -controlled corporations, local government units (LGUs), and other government instrumentalities. 

In October last year, Pascual and the DTI-BOI recommended the issuance of the EO after reporting the investment leads gathered from the previous Presidential Visits. 

"It was during the meeting that we communicated to the President that several investors are interested to expand operations in the Philippines. Most of them have emphasized the importance of advancing ease of doing business after we have identified barriers across multiple regulatory agencies that hamper the smooth entry of FDIs in the country," said Pascual.