BRIEFINGS and orientation on the National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (Nerbac) were recently conducted in the cities of Pagadian and Dipolog, and Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Zamboanga Peninsula Director Nazrullah Manzur said the orientation was in connection with the marching orders of DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo to roll out the Nerbac in all provinces of the country within the latter's first 100 days in office.

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The Nerbac Law or Republic Act 7470 stipulates that the agency shall act as a one-stop action center to facilitate the processing and documentation of all paper requirements necessary for the establishment of a business enterprise.

"By housing all business permits and licensing agencies under one roof, the center aims to reduce the turn-around time, reduce transaction cost and improve transparency by minimizing if not eradicating completely the maze of bureaucratic red tape an investor has to wade through in registering his business in the country," Manzur said.

Right now, Manzur said Zamboanga Peninsula's regional Nerbac is located at the 3rd floor of VHW Building at Veterans Avenue in Zamboanga City.

Manzur said the regional Nerbac is managed by the DTI through its center manager Hermina Cuevas.

He said the personnel from DTI, City Government of Zamboanga, Pag-Ibig, Social Security System (SSS), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) assigned to the regional Nerbac regularly report to the center to facilitate business registration.

However, he said the center is still far from the ideal of having all documentary requirements processed at the center because of certain constraints, such as the absence of inter-connectivity of databases of the aforementioned agencies at present.

A solution, though, is currently being undertaken to address this through the Philippine business Registry (PBR) project spearheaded by the DTI, Manzur added.

He said the Nerbac at the provincial level is ideally to be managed by the local government unit (LGU) and may be housed together with the LGU's Business Permit and Licensing Office.

"This is in view of a study that revealed getting a mayor's permit is one of the most time and cost intensive procedures in registering a business in the Philippines," Manzur said.

The provincial heads and representatives of Pag-Ibig, SSS, BIR, Philhealth, CDA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Science and Technology, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Interior and Local Government and the LGUs of Ipil, Pagadian and Dipolog who attended the briefings gave their commitment of support to the establishment of Nerbac in their respective areas.

Manzur said the orientation is actually just the first of several roll-out activities his office has lined up to equip the provincial Nerbac personnel.

He said the orientation includes capability building trainings on investment facilitation for both local and foreign investors, Business Permits and Licensing System streamlining for LGUs, knowledge management, and PBR connectivity.

"We envision to have a fully working provincial Nerbac in two year's time as we position it to act as a single window for investments facilitation and trade (Swift) by integrating into it eventually the one-stop export documentation center," he said.

"This is not actually something we have recently thought of. The Nerbac-Swift project had been successfully piloted for years now in Davao City by then DTI Davao Regional Director and now DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Merly Cruz. It is now being replicated in all regions across the country as part of the national government's strategy to improve the country's competitiveness," he added. (Bong Garcia)