7 May 2020 – The Ease of Doing Business and Anti-Red Tape Advisory Council, the policy and advisory body of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) convened via teleconferencing to discuss initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council, led by its chairperson Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and vice-chairperson ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica, discussed the reforms and initiatives towards improving the country’s competitiveness ranking to be submitted to the World
Bank for its 2021 Doing Business (DB) Report. Amidst the global COVID-19 crisis, the result of the annual report is still expected to be published later in the year.

“With the upcoming survey, we are fast tracking and doubling our efforts toward ensuring that all our reform initiatives will reflect and count in our competitiveness profile, especially during this time when our country is dealing with the economic impact of this ongoing COVID-19 crisis”, ARTA Director General Belgica noted.

In relation to the COVID-19 crisis, the council also discussed strategies towards the digitization of government functions as the country transitions into the “new normal”. The council have agreed that government agencies should start to maximize the use of technology in the efficient and
timely delivery of government services online to minimize the risk of further spreading diseases.

Prior to this, ARTA had issued advisories which calls on government agencies to fully adopt an online application system as an efficient alternative to on-site application procedures, issue online permits, and use e-signatures in the processing of government transactions.

The ARTA team also presented to the council its strategy for a Rapid Regulatory Impact Assessment (RRIA) which will be an expedited form of regulatory assessment that will ensure
proper policy formulation that do not add undue regulatory burden to the transacting public especially during this pandemic. The council will endorse to the Inter-Agency Task Force the creation of a Support Group that will oversee the implementation of RRIA.

The meeting held yesterday was also attended by representative from the private sector, Peter Wallace and Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III; Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Jose Arturo de Castro; and Department of Finance Director Angelica Sarmiento to represent the secretaries of said agencies who are co-members of the council. Other attendees included National Economic
and Development Authority Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro and Department of Budget and Management Assistant Secretary Clarito Alejandro Magsino.

This is the fourth meeting of the council upon its formation following ARTA Director General Belgica’s appointment in July 2019. The council is mandated by R.A. 11032 to formulate policies and programs that will continuously improve the country’s competitiveness and ease of doing