Implementing rules to Ease of Doing Business Act: Public Expectations when transacting with the Government
What improvements can the public now expect when it comes to Philippine government frontline services with the promulgation of the Implementing Rules to the Ease of Doing Business Act
The awaited Implementing Rules to the Ease of Doing Business Act were promulgated last July 17, 2019, through a Joint Memorandum Circular issued by the Anti-Red Tape Authority, the Civil Service Commission, and the Department of Trade and Industry. The Rules implement the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 (also known as Republic Act No. 11032), which had been enacted on May 28, 2018.
The Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 (Republic Act No. 9485) had originally introduced frontline service reforms to all government offices and agencies, introducing such innovations as the citizen’s charters posted at the entrance of such offices, the limitation of the number of signatories in each office or agency required in a document, and flexible working schedules that would allow government frontline services to be available even during lunch break. The Ease of Doing Business Act elevates these frontline service reforms to a higher level, taking advantage of technological innovations to more efficiently deliver government services. With the enactment of the Implementing Rules, we can expect that these additional reforms introduced by the Ease of Doing Business Act can now be implemented nationwide in government offices and agencies.
What are some of these changes that we can expect with the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Act?
- Zero-Contact Policy. No government officer or employee shall have any contact with an applicant or requesting party concerning an application or request, except during the preliminary assessment of the request and evaluation of sufficiency of submitted requirements. Electronic submission of applications, requests or payments are thus preferred. To fully implement the zero-contact policy, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is to create a web-based software enabled business registration system where all transactions would be coursed.
Exceptions to zero-contact policy (a) payment of application and other fees, if the agency does not have an electronic/online payment or if the requesting party prefers an over-the-counter payment; (b) in case of complex and/or highly technical transactions where an inspection, training or meeting with the applicant is an integral part of the application process.
- Faster Deadlines for Action – applications or requests for government service shall be acted upon by the assigned officer or employee not longer than 3 working days in the case of simple transactions, and 7 working days in the case of complex transactions, from the date the request or complete application was received. For applications and requests involving activities which pose danger to public health, public safety, public morals, public policy, and highly technical transactions, prescribed processing times cannot be longer than 20 days. For highly technical transactions involving activities such as research, field trials, scientific methodology or inter-government actions, a multi-stage system may be applied provided that the total processing time shall not exceed 40 days. If the application requires action from the local Sangguniang, 45 working days is given as the deadline.
- Embrace of automation and digital technologies. The Implementing Rules embrace the digital age, and mandate the integration of new technologies into the delivery of government services. All covered agencies are mandated to develop electronic versions of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations with the same level of authority as the signed hard copy. Electronic signatures from government signatories are permitted, such to compliance with the relevant laws and regulations to be issued by the DICT.
Within three years upon the effectivity of the Ease of Doing Business Act, all cities and municipalities are mandated to automate their business permitting and licensing systems, or to set up an electronic business one stop shop.
The Ease of Doing Business Act also mandates the establishment of a Central Business Portal, meant to serve as a central system to receive applications involving business-related transactions, as well as a Philippine Business Databank, which would provide government agencies and local government units a means to easily validate the existence of business entities which would be registered in this databank. Both the Portal and the Databank would take advantage of online interconnectivity to facilitate greater access to government data related to registered businesses, thus eliminating the need of multiple government agencies requiring the same documents from these businesses when they submit applications to different components of government. The Portal and the Databank are subject of different implementing rules that are forthcoming.
- Unified Business Application Form. The Implementing Rules mandate the development of a single or unified business application form to be used in processing new applications for business permits and business renewals. This form can be filled up electronically, and/or printed for submission. These forms would be made available online through the Central Business Portal. The application forms would be received and processed through the Business One Stop Shop (BOSS) – Negosyo Center that had been previously established under the Go Negosyo Act.