No nonsense

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
No nonsense
The Economic and Ease of Doing Business Briefing featured a ceremonial red-tape cutting led by Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs Secretary Frederick D. Go and Secretary Ernesto V. Perez. In photo are (from left) Ateneo John Gokongwei School of Management Dean Dr. Robby Galang, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino Anthony (behind Mr. Luis), Secretary Go, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu, Consul Enunina V. Mangio (president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries), Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss, and Secretary Perez.

The Ease of Doing Business (EODB) has been defined as “the level of simplicity and efficiency with which businesses can operate within an economy.” It encompasses various aspects, including the economic landscape, finance, and legal framework.

In the Philippines, we have Republic Act No. 11032 (RA11032), otherwise known as the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, which amends Republic Act No. 9485 (RA9485) or the “Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.”

Where, previously, anti-red tape dealt more with streamlining the bureaucracy and making it more efficient, EODB was seen to be more encompassing, more inclusive of not just the public sector but the private sector as well.

The World Bank itself has established the EODB Index where “higher rankings” (a lower numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. A ranking of “1” means that a country is the most business-friendly, which was New Zealand in 2023.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines was ranked 95 out of 190 economies in the ease of doing business index for 2023.

The Philippines’ overall score was 78.8 out of 100, which is higher than the regional average of 71.9 and above the global average.

On Nov. 14, 2022, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. appointed Ilonggo CPA-lawyer Ernesto Perez to be the Director General of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the government agency created by RA11032 to promote the government’s programs and initiatives for economic growth by having a streamlined and digitalized Philippine bureaucracy for effective, efficient, and inclusive service delivery.

Prior to his appointment as Director General, Secretary Nes was the ARTA deputy director general for operations and concurrent officer-in-charge of the agency. He was appointed to ARTA in 2018, making him the first-ever ARTA employee. Before that, he was an assistant secretary with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

From the time of his appointment, Secretary Nes has wasted no time in seeing to it that the EODB is being implemented in all government agencies and by all government officials concerned, even in the local government units.

German Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Andreas Michael Pfaffernoschke, Anti-Red Tape Authority Secretary Ernesto V. Perez, and Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss.

EODB cuts across all functions of government and is also a sure seal for effective and proper governance.

Of course, it goes without saying that EODB also taps into how investments come into the country, for the ease of doing business also spells business confidence.

On Dec. 15, 2023, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. 49 (EO49) creating the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (OSAPIEA) that would “ensure effective integration, coordination and implementation of the various investment and economic policies and programs of the government.”

In January of this year, the President then appointed businessman Frederick Go to be the new Special Assistant for Investment and Economic Affairs.

Likewise, Secretary Deck Go wasted no time in pursuing the mandate of his office, particularly in ensuring that the President’s priority investment and economic agenda is actively ensured, including identifying problematic areas in its implementation.

So, just recently, ARTA conducted an Economic and Ease of Doing Business (EODB) briefing to “facilitate the promotion of government programs and initiatives geared towards promoting efficient government service delivery” at the Centennial Hall A of the Manila Hotel.

This strategic engagement with the theme “From Red Tape to Red Carpet: Charting Progress through Strategic Investment and Boosting Economic Opportunities” aimed to forge stronger collaborations with various sectors to further stimulate the country’s economic growth as a response to the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to promote EODB under a whole-of-nation approach.

In the briefing, Secretary Nes Perez said this was “a declaration of intent and a collective commitment to transform our nation’s economic landscape.” He mentioned that ARTA was actively working towards the simplification and optimization of regulations and processes in sectors with significant impacts on the economy. He also emphasized that “streamlined processes translate(d) to quicker investments, and quicker investments mean(t) accelerated economic progress.”

The author with Secretary Nes Perez.

Secretary Deck Go headlined the briefing and presented the current administration’s programs and initiatives on making the Philippines a “destination of choice” for investors by prioritizing the promotion of EODB to achieve a promising business environment.

He emphasized that cutting red tape in the government by shortening processing time, establishing fixed and clear guidelines, and simplifying procedures is key to creating a conducive and favorable business environment. Secretary Go also mentioned several programs and initiatives they have been working on to streamline processes and enhance government procedures.

He said this was critical to “promote the best ideas to come forward in a stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors for the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective projects.”

At the same event, my good friend, former senator and Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina, as deputy secretary general of the Buklod Bayani Coalition, entered into an agreement with ARTA to “achieve the objective of government bureaucratic efficiency and a bolder dream of ‘Bagong Pilipinas.’”

A lot of quarters have often expressed the urgent need for the ease of doing business and for foreign direct investments to pour in, yet have been wanting in the approach and in seeing it through. Perhaps due to the Pinoy penchant for “mañana” and “ningas cogon.”

But here are two gentlemen — public servants — who, with their no-nonsense approach, have manifested that the time for chitchat is gone, and that it is now time to take speedy and determined action in easing the way business is done in the country and in boosting investor confidence.

The time is just right for these efforts under this current Marcos Jr. administration.

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