No more Red Tape

By Azer Parrocha

August 22, 2017, 7:44 pm

MANILA -- The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act of 2017 which seeks to reduce the requirements for starting and operating businesses.

Also called Senate Bill No. 1311, the measure was approved with 17 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and co-sponsored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto.

Zubiri said this measure is meant “to cure the defects in the current system of the business community's transactions with government."

Moreover, he said the passing of the measure was a response to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to cut red tape in government processes.

"This landmark legislation is our answer to the clamor of the business sector and government agencies for ease of doing business in the country, to make our country competitive and compliant with sound global business practices and standards," Zubiri said.

The bill sets a new prescribed processing period 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 prescribed a processing time no longer than 20 working days or "as determined by the government agency or instrumentality concerned, whichever is shorter."

Meanwhile, if the concerned national or local government agency application would fail to act on the application for license, clearance or permit after the prescribed processing period had lapsed then the application "shall be deemed approved."

This 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.

The bill also requires national and local agencies to set up an electronic "Business One-Stop Shop (BOSS)" business permit and licensing system nationwide to make the application process for business permits and other documents faster and more convenient.

Through the BOSS, applicants could avail of online mechanisms for submission and processing of license, clearance and/or permit applications.

Finally, the bill also called for renaming the existing Competitiveness Bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to be the new Business Anti-Red Tape and Competitiveness Bureau, to be headed by a bureau director. The new bureau would be tasked to complement the functions of the Civil Service Commission in implementing the act.

Aside from Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act, the Senate also passed on third and final reading several bills that would renew for another 25 years the franchises of eight radio and television broadcasting corporations.

The Senate passed House Bills No. 5064, 4636, 5063, 5177, 5212, 5175, 5176, and 5211, which would renew the franchises of Subic Broadcasting Corp., Iloilo Baptist Church, Inc., Pangasinan Gulf Waves Network, Corp., Infocom Communications Network, Filipinas Broadcasting Association, Inc., Beta Broadcasting System, Inc., Sarraga Integrated Management Corporation of the Philippines, and Gateway Television Broadcasting, Inc., respectively.

Under the new amendments, Poe said that the eight franchises are now required "to provide, free of charge, adequate public service time to enable the government to reach pertinent populations." (PNA)