By Lara Climaco | FilAm Star Correspondent
The national government is preparing to deploy a simplified model for obtaining construction permits that would cut processing time from 122 days to 36 days nationwide.
This is part of broad efforts to raise the country’s global ranking in the ease of doing business (EODB), which saw the Philippines slide from 99th to 113th in the World Bank (WB) report for this year.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported recently that about 60 percent of local government units (LGUs) have shortened the processing of business permits to two days, based on a survey done in January where 1,419 LGUs, comprising 94 percent of all cities and municipalities nationwide, reported on their compliance with business permitting standards that took effect in 2016.
A model facility for streamlined processing of construction permits has been set up in Quezon City where the LGU’s Business Permits and Licensing Office, Zoning Office, and the Treasurer’s Office is co-located with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and electricity service provider Meralco. Processing is computerized and open to online applications. The city government is likewise connected to Meralco, which electronically receives building permits and certificates of final electrical inspection processed.
The one-stop shop was showcased last month to the WB team that assessed the country’s progress for the 2019 EODB report.
“We have started with Quezon City moving to all cities, first NCR (National Capital Region), later to other cities and municipalities,” DILG Usec. Austere Panadero said in a press briefing last week.
An oversight committee will monitor LGUs’ compliance with the streamlined procedures. Aside from the DILG, the committee is composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Information and Communications Technology and the BFP.
“We are now to constitute teams-coaches and mentors at the regional and provincial levels to assist cities and municipalities (to) cut out unnecessary steps and requirements and meet the new standards on building permits and certificate of occupancy,” Panadero said.
The new standard for processing these documents is a unified application form, an 8-step procedure, and one-time assessment and payment of fees. Previously, there were 36 steps in the process, including securing a barangay clearance, which has now been made a post-requirement.
Red tape and corruption down to the barangay level have been cited as permitting bottlenecks, with some companies forced to shower concerned officials and their staff with gifts to obtain necessary signatures.
DTI officials also reported that starting a business in the country is now easier with the Securities and Exchange Commission migrating its company registration system to full automation since November last year and the Bureau of Internal Revenue launching a single window option for registrations. These changes have shortened processing time from 28 days to 16 days, they said.
Registering property now takes only 20 days, and parties can verify land titles, registered owners and property location through the electronic database of the Registry of Deeds. A milestone in enforcing contracts is automation at the Supreme Court, where cases are now raffled electronically.
“We already succeeded in eliminating bottlenecks and streamlining procedures. The challenge now is how to fully implement automation and interconnectivity at all levels of government,” DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez was quoted in a press release.
Officials said the government was also working on legislation to update provisions of the Corporation Code on starting a business and protecting minority investors. The Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 has likewise been passed by Congress and awaiting the President’s signature.
Meanwhile, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced last week that 20 out of the targeted 66 government agencies would be connected to the TradeNet platform by the middle of the year. TradeNet or the Philippine National Single Window is expected to soon be linked to the ASEAN Single Window, which allows the electronic exchange of border documents within the region to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration.
The DoF is touting the Duterte administration’s “comprehensive deployment of ICT to enhance governance efficiency.” These upgrades include the launch of Government Cloud Service (GovCloud) and the PHPAY platforms as centralized portals for government transactions.
The government’s goal is to raise the country’s competitiveness ranking to the top 20 percent globally by 2022.