Less than three weeks after the consultative visit of cabinet secretaries of the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Valenzuela City, a Joint Memorandum Circular is finally signed by the agencies together with the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) on August 30, 2016 at the Board of Investment Building in Makati City.
Under the new JMC, local government units are directed to streamline business permits and licensing systems, with processing time cut to two days for new business registration and one day for renewals. The number of procedures for registration has been set at a maximum of three steps for both new applicants and renewals. All LGUs are also directed to use a unified form, both in print and electronic format, with only two signatories – Mayor and Treasurer/Business Permits and Licensing Head with alternate approving signatories – required for business permits.
In addition to streamlining, the circular also recommends LGUs to automate and computerize business transactions to be able to accelerate frontline services.
In a press release published by the Valenzuela Public Information Office on August 10, it was reported that DILG Secretary Ismael D. Sueno and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez have invited Mayor REX Gatchalian to sit with them for the drafting of a memorandum circular that will harmonize the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) and the Fire Code of the Philippines.
Mayor REX showcased during the tripartite consultative meeting the present projects of the local government that co-operate under the 3S Plus in Public Service Program: (1) a streamlined business permitting process; (2) cost-effective use of a Geographical Information System (GIS) for real property assessment; (3) complete online and electronic payment systems; (4) automated building and construction permits application system; (5) availability of online business permit billing and payment system; (6) effectiveness of e-Cedula; (7) convenience in the use of ValenzuelaTrabaho, a job-matching web site; (8) practical shift to the online police clearance application system, the first of its kind in the country; (9) extended use of GIS for Business Permits; and (10) the construction of 3S (Sentro ng Sama-samang Serbisyo) Centers or the “little city halls” built across the city to bring government services closer to the people.
During the new BPLS standards signing ceremony, Valenzuela City was repeatedly commended by heads of the national agencies for its optimized use of technology to streamline tedious government transactions and fight red tape.
Before the issuance of the JMC, a similar instruction was issued by DTI and DILG in 2010, in which LGUs are mandated to set the business registration processing time to 5-10 days, the maximum number of procedures at five, the use of a unified application form, and the requirement of only two signatories to be able to register a business.
According to the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), majority of the LGUs across the country have complied with the 2010 circular as of June 2016. Records of the DILG-Local Government Academy show that 1,419 (93%) of 1,516 LGUs (excluding ARMM LGUs) have completed the streamlining program.
Valenzuela City is among the top players of national competitiveness on the parameters of economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure. In this year’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) survey, Valenzuela City was recognized as one of the top 15 highly urbanized cities in the country.
Currently, the Philippines ranks 103rd in the “Ease of Doing Business Report” published by the World Bank-International Finance Corporation. The country performed poorly in the “Starting a Business” indicator, where it slipped eight places to 165th from 157th on the previous year.