Senate approves Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act on 3rd reading

August 25, 2017 at 14:00

Senate approves Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act on 3rd reading

August 23, 2017


The Senate has passed on third and final reading a priority bill of the Duterte administration which seeks to reduce the requirements and streamline processes in starting and operating businesses.

Senate Bill No. 1311 was approved with 17 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention, according to a statement by the Senate which identifies the bill as the “Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act of 2017.” The Senate’s Web site identifies the bill as “An Act Establishing a National Policy of Ease of Doing Business, Creating for the Purpose the Ease of Doing Business Commission, and for Other Purposes.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, chair of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship and cosponsored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, one of the principal authors. The bill is also among the priorities identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

According to Mr. Zubiri, the bill seeks to amend the existing Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9485) “to cure the defects in the current system of the business community’s transactions with government.”

In approving the bill, “the Senate immediately responded to the call of President Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) to cut red tape in government,” the senator added.

The bill sets a new prescribed processing period under which both national and local government offices will have to “process the application and communicate the decision regarding the approval, or if the application has been disapproved, along with comments or reasons for such disapproval.”

This period will not be longer than three working days for simple applications involving micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and 10 working days for complex applications from the time the application was received.

For special types of businesses that require clearances, accreditation and/or licenses issued by government agencies, the bill prescribes a processing time no longer than 20 working days or “as determined by the government agency or instrumentality concerned, whichever is shorter.”

According to the bill, if the concerned national or local government agency application fails to act on an application for license, clearance or permit after the prescribed processing period has lapsed, then the application “shall be deemed approved.”

However, this is provided that the application has lapsed “without informing the applicant of the error, omissions and/or additional documents required for submission,” and that the applicant has complied with all required documents and fees.

But the prescribed processing period may be extended once for highly technical applications or for such cases where extraordinary due diligence in reviewing the qualifications and merits of an application is required.

Under the bill, stiffer penalties shall be imposed – ranging from 30 days suspension without pay (first suspension) to dismissal and disqualification from public office and one to six years of imprisonment (third offense) – on heads of offices or agencies, as well as supervising officers authorized to issue licenses, permits or clearances who violate the act.

To make the application process faster and more convenient, the bill requires national and local agencies to set up an electronic “Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS)” business permit and licensing system in cities and municipalities nationwide.

Through the BOSS, people who wish to apply for their businesses can avail themselves of online mechanisms for submission and processing of license, clearance and/or permit applications.

In relation, a single or unified business application form shall be used in processing new applications for business permits and business renewals.

“The new form would consolidate all the information of the applicant by various local government departments, such as but not limited to the local taxes and clearances, building clearance, sanitary permit, zoning clearance, and other specific local government unit requirements as the case may be, including the fire clearance from the Bureau of Fire Protection,” the bill said.

The unified application form, as well as a comprehensive checklist of requirements, step-by-step procedures, and schedule of fees, will be made available online in the cities/municipalities’ web sites.

The bill said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be required to establish a cloud-native Central Business Portal or other similar technology, to act as a central system that would receive the application and capture application data from business entities nationwide.

The Central Business Portal would then allow government agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other national and local government agencies “to receive and process applications, as well as to issue digitally signed business license documents to applicants.”

The bill also called for renaming the existing Competitiveness Bureau under the DTI as the new Business Anti-Red Tape and Competitiveness Bureau, to be headed accordingly by a bureau director.

The new bureau will be tasked to complement the functions of the Civil Service Commission in implementing the act.

Mr. Zubiri cited a 2017 World Bank report which ranked the Philippines 99th among 190 countries on ease-of-doing-business. In the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines ranked 6th among 10 nations.


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