Press Release
February 22, 2018

Ease of Doing Business Must Lead to Easy-on-the-Pocket Expenses
Explanation of Vote: Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto
21 February 2018

I am voting in the affirmative, Mr. President, with the manifestation that to further improve the bill, three provisions should be addressed in the law's IRR, or if not feasible, the subject of a separate legislation.

First, there should be a no price increase provision for fees of permits and licenses, or at least a lock-in period when charges should not be adjusted upward.

The driving logic behind this proposal is that if red tape will be cut, there will be less paper work and fewer signatories, then the cost should remain as it is, if not go down.

It will be the height of absurdity if efficiency will be penalized with a higher price, considering the fact that in computing the cost of licenses issued by the government, the guiding principle is the mere recovery of the cost of preparation and not to profit.

In short, ease of doing business should lead to easy-on-the-pocket expenses. It can even be argued that if we cut the process, then we should also cut the price, or at the very least keep the status quo.

Second, Mr. President, is the plight of single proprietors, such as knowledge-based workers, creative people, artists, non-PRC registered professionals in one-man firms, and one-person e-commerce owners who work on their own, whose portable office is their laptop, and who hold office in WiFi hotspots with hot cups of coffee, but are required to get a business permit for BIR purposes.

The problem they confront is that they have to secure a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate even if in reality they do not have a physical office. Kung writer ka at bedspacer ka lang, kailangan bang dumaan sa inspection ang kamang inuupahan mo?

They are required to buy fire extinguishers when there is no place to install them. Why should a work-at-home millennial who bunks at his parents' house secure a fire clearance?

A good anti-red tape law, therefore, should exempt these tax-paying entrepreneurs from the hassle, and sometimes the harrows, of getting a fire clearance.

Third, my dear colleagues, is that in my view, a responsive anti-red tape law should contain an anti-epal provision when it comes to the design of permits.

One ludicrous imposition in many areas today is for business owners, be they grocery owners or ukay-ukay sellers, to buy every year as a business permit a thin metal or hard plastic plate featuring the name and the likeness of the issuing authority.

Sa bayang ito, walang plaka ang mga sasakyan, pero ang mga sari-sari store mayroon. Hindi lang iyon-- taun-taon pa itong pinapalitan.

Hindi naman nabubulok ang plaka. Hindi naman naagnas ang bakal, bakit kada taon ay kailangan bumili ng bago ang business permit holder?

Why can't we just adopt the same practice in registering cars and just plaster a sticker on the plate or permit as proof that it has been registered for the year?

Why can't we design a politics-neutral, politico-blind plaka that will last long and will not be wasted if the head of the LGU, whose face and name are displayed on it, will not be re-elected? Or better still, honor the receipt as the permit itself and do away with burloloys.

Let us go for institutional instead of personalistic permits that have long expiration dates and will last for years. In this age when recycling is encouraged, why should we adopt a throw-away mentality on a document that does not need to be discarded annually?

Just the same, Mr. President, I vote yes to this Bicameral Conference Committee Report in the hope that it is the cure to a disease which has metastasized all over the bureaucracy, as proven by our worsening score in ease in doing business.

In the 2017 Edition of the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, we rank 137th out of 138 economies in the number of procedures to start a business.

In the 2017 ranking by World Bank, we are 171st in starting a business, 85th in dealing with construction permits, 112th in registering a property.

In many of these metrics, failed states, like Afghanistan, are ranked higher than us. The ugliness of our system is captured by this set of vital statistics: 34-35-36. 34 days to start a business, 35 days to register a property, 36 days spent in a year to pay taxes.

So what's the culprit of all of these? The byzantine maze of regulations in a balkanized bureaucracy.

To end this, we have to shorten the process, shrink the number of requirements and signatories, and speed up the delivery.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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