The Department of Finance (DOF) was at the forefront of the Duterte administration’s drive in the second half of 2016 to dramatically cut red tape in the bureaucracy in order to speed up the delivery of essential public services and make businesses more attractive to both local and foreign investors.
With Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III at the helm, the DOF was also at the frontline of the new administration’s program to privatize state assets to further trim the fat off the bureaucracy and help raise enough revenues for its priority growth and poverty-reduction programs.
As chairperson of the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), Dominguez also fast-tracked the approval of infrastructure projects. As of this writing the ICC has so far given the go-signal to 17 big ticket projects in just the first six months of the Duterte presidency, more than what the previous administration had approved in its entire term.
For 2016, the total remittances of the Privatization Management Office (PMP) to the National Treasury amounted to P261 million, exclusive of approved and authorized retention amounts, the DOF said.
The Department was also able to secure a P21.5 million grant from the German development bank KfW Group last year to implement a separate anti-red tape initiative that would simplify processes in submitting documentary requirements for imports and exports, along with harmonizing these systems as part of the Duterte administration’s efforts to ease the way of doing business here and facilitate the country’s integration into the regional community of Southeast Asian economies.
Under anti-red tape czar Gil Beltran, the DOF’s chief economist and undersecretary for policy development and management services, the Department significantly reduced documentary requirements and streamlined procedures in at least eight frontline services offered by the government to individuals and businesses.
Beltran said cutting red tape in the DOF and its attached agencies were initially done in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) within the first three months of the Duterte administration.
“For instance, in the processing of registration for the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), the BIR removed 7 of the 12 required documents. The BIR added as an alternative document, the OTR or Occupational Tax Receipt, usually for those registering as self-employed individuals,” said Beltran, who was named anti-red tape czar by Dominguez last July.
Beltran also said that a government-issued ID, rather than a copy of birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office, would now suffice as one of the requirements when registering for a TIN.
For corporations, partnerships, cooperatives and associations, the BIR removed 1 of the 7 required documents. Branches and facilities now only need to submit one kind of document after the BIR removed 2 out of the 3 requirements.
Local employees would need to submit only 2 out of the previous 4 documents, while for purely TIN issuances, Beltran said the BIR removed 2 out of the 4 requirements and added one alternative document.
In registering a Book of Accounts, the BIR removed 1 out of 4 documents for the manual type, 1 out of 3 documents for the loose-leaf type, and 1 out of 4 documents for the computerized type.
The BIR also halved the requirements needed for the transfer of one’s business registration to another regional district office to 4 out of 8 documents.
The cancellation of one’s TIN/Registration documents now only needs 4 out of the previous 8 requirements, Beltran said.
In the PDIC, out of 3 documents for the settlement of claims for deposit insurance and 5 documents for settlement of claims of closed bank creditors, PDIC removed one document each.
Another anti-red tape project, the KfW-funded Inter-Agency Business Process Interoperability (IABPI) Program, aims to streamline the process of issuing permits for imports and exports from two weeks to a maximum of only three days.
The project will not only improve the deliver of this frontline government service, but would also contribute to the increase in revenues, facilitate regional trade links and the entry or expansion of businesses in the Philippines, Beltran said.
Besides simplifying import-export documentation processes, the program’s targets include developing policies to “oversee, manage and harmonize transactions of all regulatory agencies” involved in these processes by establishing protocols to link their databases with each other.
The program also aims to enforce “transparent and accountable regulation processes and procedures [in] all relevant government agencies” and ensure that these would be sustained.
On top of these initiatives, the DOF began working together last year with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to develop the government’s automated business and citizen registry systems that would serve as the primary tools in cutting red tape and reducing processing time for government frontline services.
Beltran said the DOF and the DICT are continuing to identify the data to be gathered from various government agencies for the automated business and citizen registries.
Dominguez said he is envisioning a system comparable to the one used by the online buying portal Amazon.com, which can process millions of purchases from clients by requiring just a one-time registration of pertinent data that can then be validated and used for all transactions.
On trimming bureaucratic fat and generating additional revenues for the government’s priority programs, the PMO was able to raise P284 million as of November 2016, of which P96 million came from the proceeds of the sale and disposition of 13,000 square meters of land in Paranaque City (P55.9 million); 7 parcels of land in Davao City and 5 lots in Tagum City (P28.8 million); and 2,360 sqm of land in San Miguel, Manila (P11.3 million).