Sunday, August 25, 2019

Input sought on ease of doing biz law

Public Consultation. Department of Trade and Industry Competitiveness Bureau Assistant Director Mary Lou Gesilva speaks to stakeholders. (SunStar Foto / Amper Campaña)

THE private sector in Central Visayas welcomed the passage of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Services Delivery Act of 2018 or Republic Act (RA) 11032, but also voiced out their concerns on how the government can cope with the changes.

In a public consultation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law, around 70 representatives from different businesses aired out their issues.

“We are open to any new policy for the betterment (of services). It’s very challenging for those in the government side, but we are very willing to cooperate,” Philippine Exporters Confederation Cebu chairman Apolinar Suarez Jr. told SunStar Cebu.

Suarez, in an open forum with DTI officials headed by Assistant Director Mary Lou Gesilva of the DTI Competitiveness Bureau, suggested that the law be implemented first on a “model” or a prototype agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved RA 11032 on May 28. The law, which amends the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, seeks to make the process of putting up and running a business easier and more efficient in the country.

The provisions include a standard deadline for government transactions, a single application form for taxes, clearances and permits, a business one-stop-shop, an automated electronic system for local government units, zero-contact policy to eliminate corruption, and a central business portal to receive all business applications.

An agency should finish simple transactions in three working days, while complex transactions should be completed in seven days. Highly technical transactions are given up to 20 days.

Failure of an agency to finish within the prescribed number of days will mean automatic approval of the request.

The law mandates the creation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), which is tasked to improve the quality of government services, promote transparency and cut red tape. ARTA will make sure the prescribed processing time for business transactions is followed.

Violations include refusal to accept applications, imposition of additional requirements, failure to give requesting party notice of disapproval, failure to attend to applicants who are in the office premises during office hours, failure or refusal to issue official receipts and fixing or colluding with fixers.

There is also a two-strike policy against government officials and employees found in violation of the law.

For the first offense, there will be an administrative liability with six months suspension, except for fixing or collusion with fixers, where the Revised Penal Code is applied.

Aside from the administrative liability, the second offense includes criminal charges, which means dismissal from service, imprisonment of one to six years, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, a fine of not less than P500,000 and forfeiture of retirement benefits of not more than P2 million.

Danilo Cabahug of the Negros Oriental Food Producers Association expressed his approval of the law’s passage.

“This law is very much welcome because there are government officials who are inefficient and incompetent,” Cabahug said during the open forum.

Gesilva said that all the inputs from the different sectors will be considered.

“We’re here to listen to all the inputs. The consultation is regional so the inputs were probably that diverse as well. We will consolidate it and discuss it with the 12 agencies tasked to craft the IRR,” she said.

These agencies are the DTI, Civil Service Commission, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Finance, Department of Internal and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, Philippine Statistics Authority, Cooperative Development Authority, Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines. JOB


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