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Anti-red tape agency seeks more powers

/ 04:55 AM September 26, 2020

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta) wants government agencies to be required to implement its recommendations on how to streamline processes, or else have their officials face suspension or even imprisonment.

As things stand, government agencies can simply take note of Arta’s finding. Mandating agencies to follow, however, will require amending Arta’s enabling law, Republic Act No. 11032, just a little more than two years since it was passed.

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Arta said it had already gotten the endorsement of its policy and advisory body to get Congress to expand Arta’s powers.

“Making Arta’s findings on suggested changes in the different agencies’ processes mandatory for implementation will definitely solve a lot of red tape problems,” Arta Director General Jeremiah Belgica said in a statement on Friday.

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“The real lasting solution is enforced streamlining and not just a mere recommendation,” he added.

When asked to further clarify the amendment, the office of the director general said that, under its proposal, it would first need to get the approval of two-thirds of its policy and advisory body before a recommendation could be made mandatory.

This, the office said, is to keep Arta from becoming “a monopolizing authority.”

Called the Ease of Doing Business and Anti-Red Tape Advisory Council, it is made up of seven members, with the Trade and Industry Secretary as its chair.

Other council members are the Arta director general as vice chair, the secretaries of Finance, of Information and Communications Technology, and of Interior and Local Government as well as two private sector representatives.

Under the current law, Arta said it could only issue a notice of warning to erring and noncomplying government employees or officials. Noncompliance to its recommendations was not included in the law’s list of punishable offenses.

Arta wants to change this and make it a punishable act under the new amendment, administratively and criminally. It is also proposing to be vested with subpoena and contempt powers and be deputized to conduct formal investigation for violations of the law.

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Since senators plan to grant President Duterte anti-red tape emergency powers during this state of national emergency, Arta said the council approved which emergency powers would actually be granted, but it did not elaborate. Arta has not yet responded to a request for more information.

Arta said it would also propose that all covered agencies be required to allot a certain percentage of their budget for an ease of doing business plan and program, which it said was similar to how agencies were being required to allot 5 percent of their budget for a gender and development program.

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TAGS: Anti-Red Tape Authority, Arta
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