4 August 2022 – Ease of doing business and streamlining measures were highlighted in the Zoom webinar titled Liveable Cities Philippines Lab: GovTech Accelerator, which aimed to help government agencies and local government units produce creative and innovation solutions to creating livable cities throughout the Philippines.

The said webinar was co-presented by the New Zealand Embassy in partnership with the League of Cities of the Philippines and Globe Telecom. The event was moderated by Liveable Cities Philippines Chairman and Ayala Corporation Executive Guillermo “Bill” Luz.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary Ernesto V. Perez., who was among the speakers invited in the event, emphasized the need for the government to continuously innovate and improve the country’s national competitiveness for the creation of livable cities.

“Cities are primary drivers of growth and technological advancement. They also serve as sources of income, production, and development to our people. Nonetheless, cities face additional constraints in today’s increasingly urban world. They have emerged as the focal point for society’s most critical economic, social, and environmental challenges,” he said in his speech on 3 August 2022.

“In this regard, it is critical to have thorough planning and preparation to ensure not just sustainability but also to encourage a roaring and robust environment. Economic hubs like the Liveable Cities Lab are thus important in further encouraging growth and opportunities throughout the century,” he added.

ARTA Usec. Perez said it is seeking to collaborate and interconnect with the Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) in implementing the Philippine Standard on Sustainable Cities and Communities.

“We hope to create truly inclusive growth, ensuring that no one is left behind in the process,” he said. “We believe that the streamlined and reengineered processes, intelligent ICT-enabled systems, coupled with scientific and local know-how, will lead to improved lives for our people.”

Also among the speakers invited in the Liveable Cities Philippines Lab include New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell, Creative HQ’s head of Government Innovation Jonnie Haddon, and Valenzuela Mayor Wes Gatchalian.

Amb. Kell said digital governance means “focusing on what the people need, not what governments what to do” by “doing things differently in an increasingly connected world, using new mindsets, skillsets, technologies, and data to benefit people, government, and the economy.”

“Digital government is about putting people first. It’s about focusing on what the people need in these fast-changing times. That is how we can meet the needs of people by using emerging technologies, data, and changes to government culture, practices, and processes,” he said.

“It’s also about encouraging collaboration across government agencies to ensure a joined up, integrated approach to public service delivery. And lastly, it’s about leveraging partnerships,” he added.

Haddon echoed this sentiment, adding that the GovTech Accelerator program is also aimed at capacitating public servants to constantly innovate and keep up with the demands of the digital world.

“Our primary objective with this program is to create an innovative outcome. A better outcome for whoever it is that is being served,” he said.

“But second to that, it’s about building the capability of public sectors staff who go through this program so that they can apply it not just to this one program or project, but they can apply it time and time again throughout their career to really start to create a groundswell of practitioners of public sector innovation who can challenge the status quo and can do things in a different way,” he added.

ARTA Usec. Perez shared that the Authority has been benchmarking with several foreign partners and countries.

The Authority forged a partnership with the New Zealand government, which topped the World Bank Group’s Doing Business report in 2019, through a Memorandum of Understanding which aimed to strengthen their relations and boost their efforts in the fields of ease of doing business and public sector efficiency.

Under the said agreement, 21 ARTA personnel were enrolled in the T7 Masterclass of the Creative HQ, New Zealand’s leading provider of structured innovation programs for startups, corporates, and government. The T7 Masterclass seeks to upskill the Authority’s personnel on innovation tools and methodologies and to promote a culture of innovation within and outside ARTA.

ARTA and the New Zealand government are also mulling the establishment of creative laboratories in the Philippines patterned after the Creative HQ. Among the proposed upcoming programs are Innovation Service Design Delivery, Technology transfer and adoption related to E-Governance, Government Technology and Innovation Methods, and Academic Regulatory Management Courses.

Luz also lauded ARTA for its various efforts in improving the country’s ease of doing business and expressed interest in continuing the partnership between Liveable Cities Philippines and the Authority.

“For our part in Liveable Cities, if ever you need augmentation in the private sector for facilitators and trainers and mentors, please feel free to ask because we are also able to provide that for you for augmentation with what you already have,” he said.