13 June 2020 – The Anti-Red Tape and Ease of Doing Business Advisory Council held a virtual meeting last Thursday led by its chairperson, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, and vice-chairperson, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica.

During the meeting, ARTA Director General Belgica updated the Council on its ongoing initiatives which include the continuous processing of complaints; expanding of the Authority’s manpower; and the monitoring of the regulatory reforms of government agencies particularly those of the “most complained” agencies, five of which were named by President Duterte in his 2019 SONA (i.e. BIR, LRA, LTO, SSS, Pag-IBIG) and two of which were identified by ARTA based on its own complaints records (i.e. FDA, LTFRB).

The ARTA chief also discussed its recently-issued memorandums, ARTA Memorandum 2020-03A and 2020-04, which extend the deadline for the submission of government agencies’ updated Citizen’s Charters and Compliance Report, respectively.

Aside from extending the submission of the Citizen’s Charter, ARTA Memorandum 2020-03A provides that for government agencies in areas placed under ECQ, “the processing times stated in the Citizen’s Charter of government agencies shall be suspended and appropriate adjustments shall be made until the ECQ is lifted”.

In line with the efforts for ensuring efficient government service delivery in the “new normal”, the Council will soon be issuing a set of guidelines on the (a) issuance and/or reinstitution of permits and licenses; (b) mandatory online filing, processing and payment of port dues, fees and related charges, and custom taxes and duties; and on the (c) mandatory use of e-signatures and online payment platforms of government agencies.

As such, it was agreed upon that all members of the Council will issue a joint memo endorsing the use of digital signature in all government offices.
The Council will also be adopting the results of the nationwide study conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) on Institutionalizing Service Quality Standards to Frontline Government Service Providers for the formulation of the Report Card Survey, a means for measuring client satisfaction on the quality and efficiency of government services.

During the meeting, ARTA also reported that it had already submitted the country’s reforms for the World Bank’s 2021 Doing Business Survey last 31 May 2020, following the previous Council meeting. For the 2021 survey, the country logged a total of 68 Doing Business reforms from the 10 different indicators, including 13 data corrections for last year’s report.

At the very least, the Doing Business Division of ARTA projects that the Philippines could improve its ranking by 9 notches from the 95th to 86th. It is to be noted, however, that this simulation in ranking does not yet take into account the performance of other countries and economies.
Also present in the meeting was another Council member Mr. Peter Wallace, Department of Finance Director Angelica Sarmiento, Department of Information and Communications Technology Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Caintic, Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Ester Aldana, DAP President Atty. Engelbert Caronan, and Mr. Guillermo Luz from the private sector, among others.