The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Securities and Exchange Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Pag-IBIG Fund, Food and Drug Administration, and eighteen pilot Local Government Units (LGUs) had launched the first phase of the Central Business Portal (CBP), an online one-stop shop for registering business last 28 January 2021.

The CBP (business.gov.ph) offers a single site for all business-related information and transactions such as securing business permits, licenses, and clearances. It had been on its soft-launch phase to targeted law and accounting firms since 28 August 2020. Additional features had since been added for the nationwide launch of its Phase 1.

The creation of CBP through DICT is mandated by Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. By mandate of a Joint Memorandum Circular among the abovementioned agencies, along with the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Cooperative Development Authority, ARTA will be overseeing the implementation of the CBP and will be providing support, facilitation, and assistance to the participating agencies throughout its development and implementation.

In a recorded message played during the event, the President lauded the launching of the virtual business one-stop shop: “Today’s event is a testament to the endless possibilities of what we can accomplish to the dynamic partnership between the government and the private sector […] Together, let us continue working towards a more productive and empowered citizenry”.

The implementation of the CBP is projected to improve the country’s performance in the Starting a Business indicator under the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. In the World Bank’s 2020 Report, the Philippines ranked 171st among 190 economies in the said indicator, which measures the number of procedures, time, cost, and paid-in minimum capital requirement for a small- to medium-sized limited liability company to start up and formally operate.

Since 2016, the Philippines, from a ranking of 165, now we are in the rank of 171 specifically in the SAB indicator, meaning the other countries have improved or the Philippines did not improve as fast as we would want with other countries. Now this is what the Central Business Portal wants to address. We want to leap-frog and to make a radical change in order for us to not only be more competitive amongst our neighboring countries within the South East, but also globally”, said ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica.

Through the CBP, business applicants can now register their business in just one step in less than a day, as compared to the previous manual process with 13 steps that could be completed in 33 days. Once the CBP is fully implemented, ARTA projects that our country’s ranking in the Starting a Business indicator could jump up to the 7th rank.

The CBP Phase 1 allows for the registration of one person corporations, corporations with two to four incorporators, and regular corporations whose incorporators are juridical entities and/or the capital structure is not covered by the 25%-25% rule. The portal provides a Unified Application Form for all agencies involved in the business registration process, thus eliminating the undue burden on applicants of having to fill up redundant entry forms with different agencies.

Through the portal, applicants can now complete their business registration with SEC and BIR, generate BIR tax identification number, pay for BIR filing and registration fees, and register employer numbers for SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG. The CBP now also features a Unified Employee Reporting Module for SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG, and process applications for secondary license featuring FDA’s License to Operate (LTO) for Center for Drugs.

The integration of FDA’s LTO into the portal is also part of the implementation of ARTA’s National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies or NEHEMIA Program – Food and Pharmaceutical Sector. This move reduces the number of steps from 28 to nine, the number of requirements from 41 to 12, and the number of days from 63 to 21 in acquiring the LTO.

Further, the CBP now also links to the online business permitting system of the local government of Quezon City, Paranaque City, Ilagan City, Baler, Dipaculao, Limay, Macabebe, Paete, Santa Cruz in Marinduque, Labo, Santa Barbara in Iloilo, Mandaue City, Dumingag, Catarman, and Kabacan.

For the next phases, DICT and ARTA will work towards the integration of the Cooperative Development Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry to benefit small and medium industries as well as cooperatives, the business permitting systems of other LGUs, the services of the Bureau of Fire Protection as soon as its online system is implemented, as well as the integration of agencies that issue secondary permits and licenses.