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ARTA backs pre-approval system to address long processing times

THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said a pre-approval system for business permits may help in reducing application processing times, leading to a more attractive environment for potential investors.

“What we are suggesting is to have a pre-approval system, meaning the agencies will approve the business permits first with the undertaking that they will submit the pending requirements, say in 20 days, or risk revocation,” ARTA Secretary Ernesto Perez told reporters on Wednesday.

“This is what other countries do; they approve the permits first or even allow them to operate as long as it is not critical,” he added.

Earlier this year, ARTA made the commitment to reduce processing time to 10 minutes. The agency has since found processing times in some local government units (LGUs) of as long as two days.

“But there are LGUs that can issue permits in 20 minutes to 30 minutes, so 10 minutes is doable, just like how it is in Singapore,” Mr. Perez said.

He said that reducing the processing times could be achieved via LGU compliance with Republic Act 11032 or the Anti-Red Tape Act, which requires all LGUs to set up electronic business permit one-stop shops.

“We already have the operations manual, and we also have this joint memorandum circular with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Trade and Industry,” he said.

“What the LGUs only need to do is to follow the guidelines that we have set and if there are still challenges, we are always ready to help them to comply,” he added.

Of over 1,000 LGUs, only 26 are confirmed to have complied with the law, according to ARTA’s Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation Office.

“But the data from the DILG showed that there were more compliant LGUs; that is why we received a directive from the President to harmonize our figures,” he said.

“We will be conducting a joint inspection to validate the reports of those LGUs that are saying that they are fully automated, and we are targeting to do that within the year,” he added.

“Businessmen, when they know that it is easy and fast to get business permits and licenses from a certain LGU, they themselves will voluntarily register their business there and pay the right amount of taxes,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile