Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri laid down reforms to make the country business-friendly for local entrepreneurs and foreign investors noting that the Philippines finished 2015 with a dismal record of 99th in the bottom pile of 190 countries surveyed by the World Bank Group on ease-of-doing-business (EODB). "Statistically, we are smack at the midpoint, but, holistically we're worse. We fall behind Turkey (ranked 69th) which for the past two years has been embroiled in the Syrian war, South Africa (ranked 74th) which had to deal with drought and political strife and even Indonesia (ranked 91st) which suffers extensive forest fires for many successive years," Zubiri explained his disdain. Last year, the Philippines accomplished some reforms in doing business, as follows: transparency in building regulations which made getting construction permits easier; setting online system for filing and paying health contributions; establishing online corporate income tax payments, and, allowing offline completion of Value-Added-Tax returns by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Zubiri said the major legislation on Ease-Of-Doing-Business (EODB) shall involve local governments and national government agencies. From industry, micro- and small- entrepreneurs, Zubiri formulated his initial broad strokes of EODB reforms, as follows: a) License and permits processes streamlining, for all business types, not just in construction: i. Specific timeframe for approval of application for permit on per agency basis ii. Requirements and fees posted conspicuously in the premises and online in respective website iii. Uniform checklist of requirements iv. Automatic approval, deemed, if agency fails to inform applicant of any error, omission or additional requirement, beyond the set timeframe v. Renewal on the anniversary date vi. Longer validity periods vii. Review of specific timeframe for each business type every five (5) years, exclusive of timeframe for automatic approval, by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), BIR, Department of information and communication Technology (DICT), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Union of Local Government Associations of the Philippines, including the Leagues of Cities, Municipalities and Provinces b) Information sharing between and by the LGUs, BIR, SEC and other concerned government agencies with the DICT establishing the automation platform among government agencies c) Competitiveness test shall be undertaken for every local ordinance setting new requirements for existing and new business types "We try to grow our economy and drum up marketing promotions for our products abroad. However, internal weaknesses have made the bureaucracy lethargic. Antiquated rules, regulations and laws constrict business activities. We shall simplify and streamline as much as possible. If we hold business fairs and exhibitions for marketing, I shall also go on roadshows to disseminate information about EODB reforms." "These reforms have been overdue yesterday, and thus we recommend stiff penalties for individuals and offices who make it hard for business start-ups and expansions. We are studying criminal and administrative penalties ranging from imprisonment to perpetual disqualification from public office, and, from suspension to dismissal from government service, respectively." "With our wealth in natural resources and excellence in human capital, we can aspire to be closer to our Asian neighbors in terms of ease of doing business (EODB) of which Singapore, Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea are among the world's top ten business-friendly economies," Zubiri concluded. Zubiri will put flesh into the recommendations of Project Repeal launched by government since 2012. It seeks to repeal or delist 3,771 department orders issued since 1958. Twenty-four government agencies are engaged and have submitted 22,599 rules and regulations for review. Government agencies have acted on 3,765 rules and regulations of which 1,877 have been delisted.
Source: Philippine Information Agency