House pushes for shorter processing of permit or license

Securing a business permit or license will soon be just a piece of cake for investors and businessmen planning to put up businesses in the country.

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill which seeks, among others, to simplify permit and licensing system procedures and streamline the requirements at the national and local levels.

House Bill 6579 titled “An Act Establishing A National Policy On Ease Of Doing Business, Creating For The Purpose The Ease Of Doing Business Commission” also aims to provide a business environment that is conducive for the establishment and operation of enterprises in the country.

Likewise, it intends to promote transparency in government with regard to business registration and other manner of public transactions, to reduce red tape and expedite permitting, licensing, and other similar transactions in government.

It also seeks to ensure timely and expeditious processing of business requirements by national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs).

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), principal author of the bill, said it takes 16 procedures to navigate and an average of 29 days to start a business in the country.

She said the Philippines placed at 165th in the ranking of 189 economies and lags behind Singapore ranked in 1st place, Malaysia in 14th place, Thailand in 96th place, Vietnam in 119th place, and Laos in 153rd place.

The bill calls for the creation of the National Policy in the Ease of Doing Business which is a comprehensive and regulatory management policy to improve competitiveness and ease undue bureaucratic and regulatory burden to business entities.

Furthermore, it seeks the creation of the Ease of Doing Business Commission, an attached agency to the Office of the President which shall be the policy-making body on business registration and regulatory management and shall set the overall direction for the implementation of the National Policy on Ease of Doing Business.

As the lead agency in the implementation of the National Policy on Ease of Doing Business, the Commission has the powers and functions to among others, plan, implement, and oversee a national policy on ease of doing business; receive complaints and institute investigations for violations of this Act; assist complainants in filing necessary cases without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, as the case may be; compel or petition any NGA or LGU to issue the permit, license, or clearance of business entities deemed approved; and periodically review and assess the country’s competitiveness performance, challenges and issues.

The measure directs all NGAs and LGUs issuing licenses, clearances, or permits to business entities to post a comprehensive checklist of requirements for every type of license, clearance, or permit to be issued.

It mandates the NGAs and LGUs involved in the processing and issuance of licenses, clearances, or permits to business entities to process the application of such business entities and communicate the decision regarding the approval or disapproval of the application along with the reasons for such disapproval.

It mandates further that the prescribed processing time shall in no case be longer that one working day for barangay governments.

For NGAs and LGUs for simple application, the prescribed processing time shall be three working days while for national government agencies and LGUs in case of complex applications, the prescribed processing time shall be 10 working days from the time of receipt of the application.

For special types of businesses that require clearances, accreditation, or licenses issued by government agencies, including regulatory agencies as provided for by law, where technical evaluation or such necessary condition is required in the processing of license, clearances, or permits, the prescribed processing time shall in no case be longer than 30 working days or as determined by the government agency or instrumentality concerned whichever is shorter.

Where the prescribed processing time is fixed by special laws, the time prescribed by such laws shall apply.

Violations of the Act include refusal to accept an application within the prescribed period or any document being submitted by the applicant, this despite all required documents have been submitted and the necessary fees have been paid.

Other considered violations are; failure to refer back to the applicant an application which cannot be acted upon due to lack or incomplete requirements or non-payment of required fees or charges within the prescribed period; failure to act on application despite the complete submission of requirements and payment of required fees or charges within the prescribed period; failure to give the applicant a written notice on the disapproval of an application within the prescribed period or inform the applicant of any error, omission or deficiency in the application; and imposition of additional irrelevant requirements other than those provided by the concerned agency or LGU.

Penalties for said violations are: for the first offense, 30 days suspension without pay; second offense, three months suspension without pay; and third offense, dismissal and perpetual disqualification to hold public office, cancellation of civil service eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.