Doing business made easier
Necessity is not the only factor that can give birth to invention or innovation. Frustration can, too.
That was the case with Ferjenel Biron, who hit one bureaucratic barrier after another as he grew Phil Pharmawealth Inc., which imports and distributes medical devices, disposables and instruments and various kinds of pharmaceutical products.
Biron told the Inquirer in an interview that inordinate and unexplained delays in the issuance of all sorts of permits, from the mayor’s permit to the barangay clearance and even to the certification from the public health and sanitation and fire safety inspectors, all dampen entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm to grow their business or run it legitimately.
These delays likewise provide a healthy breeding ground for corruption as a number of unscrupulous government workers offer to grease the wheels and release the clearances and permits early if they get paid extra for their troubles.
The bureaucratic excess that can be found in all branches and agencies of government across the country has contributed to the dismal ranking of the Philippines in the global ease of doing business rankings.
The Philippines’ ranking in ease of doing business fell to 124th last year from 113th in 2017 among 190 countries covered by the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform” report.
In comparison, six of the Philippines’ fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations got better rankings: Singapore placed second, Malaysia 15th, Thailand 27th, Brunei Darussalam 55th, Vietnam 69th and Indonesia 73rd.
Biron, representing the 4th district of Iloilo, wanted to reverse this sorry state by shepherding the Ease of Doing and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.
“I know how frustrating and difficult it can get to secure government clearances. I know from personal experience,” Biron said.
The Act that was signed into law in May last year provides for, among others, a prescribed processing time of three working days for simple government transactions to a maximum of 20 days for “highly technical” transactions such as approvals by the Food and Drug Administration.
In case an agency fails to approve or disapprove an original application within the prescribed processing time, the application will be deemed approved.
Another major provision is the setting up of a Citizen’s Charter by all government agencies, indicating the checklist of requirements for each type of application or request, the person or persons responsible for each step, the procedure for filing complaints, maximum time to complete the process and the schedule of fees.
Biron said key to the new law was the provision of criminal liabilities, which were not defined in previous versions of ease of doing business laws.
Biron is optimistic that as soon as the deliberations over the implementing rules and regulations are concluded and the implementation of the law’s provisions gets underway, the Philippines will see a dramatic improvement in its rankings.
But more than the rankings, Biron hopes that streamlining the processes will encourage more Filipinos to try their hand at running their own legitimate business. Doing so will not only contribute to alleviating poverty but will also help the government directly through increased taxes and even faster economic growth.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.