THE Duterte administration now has an Anti-Red Tape Czar and he is Department of Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran.
The President, it will be recalled, closed his uniquely short and practical inaugural speech with an order to all government officials to shorten their bureaucratic handling of all paperwork. He gave a limit to the bureaucrats’ time for acting on applications for licenses and permits.
It is the officials’ leisurely timeframe for these approvals that allows them to have their agents whisper a hint to innocent applicants that for a consideration the approval could come down fast. Businessmen applicants who have long been dealing with these government offices know the drill and get their papers done during the day.
The action-time limit given to officials reduces their opportunity to collect bribes and, especially if they are watched, would be forced to move more efficiently.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez tasked Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran with “dramatically reducing the number of steps and documentary requirements” in the Department of Finance and its attached agencies. We hope Usec Beltran or some other equally competent official does the same for the other departments,
Among the matters to be shortcut are, Sec. Domguez said, “paying taxes, getting tax refunds, acquiring tax exemption certificates, getting imports released, shipping out exports, registering a business and getting appointments with public officials.” He reiterated President Duterte’s promise to “cut redundancy” in government processes to improve the delivery of basic services and infrastructure.
Usec Beltran would have to review each and every approval process in DoF.
The Duterte government would need to submit to Congress its desired amendments to the procurement law if the process of buying anything is to be streamlined. Maybe an executive or administrative order would be sufficient to abridge the permit requirements for infrastructure projects.
The central government, the Cabinet departments and the local governments would have to list priorities and take their lists seriously — and not give in to politicians lobbying them for changes in priorities that have been set.
This model official rose from the ranks
Mr. Beltran has been finance undersecretary for 11 years. Concurrently he is the Finance Department’s Chief Economist. He is a model employee who rose from the ranks of DoF through hard work, excellent service and good judgment from the time he had his first job as researcher in 1978.
He is a product of the University of the Philippines School of Economics where he finished his Bachelor’s degree in 1977. He then went to the University of Colorado for a masters’ degree in economics and after that he went for a masters in development economics at William College.
He was asked as “one of the strongest voices in the Philippine finance sector” by World Folio: “What is the message that you transmit about the Philippines when you have ministers of foreign countries asking about the country?”
The DoF’s Anti-Red Tape Czar replied: “The Philippines is a country with a lot of opportunities going forward. There are unused resources, like our savings (which are higher than our investment). If savings are transformed into investment, that will push GDP. There is also manpower that could be trained to take over difficult, sensitive jobs. Many of these can be entrepreneurs, and given the appropriate environment, this country could grow faster than its present growth rate of 7%. The potential would be enough to push us to be a trillion dollar economy. We are at the point where the lower income groups are being pushed up to the middle-income plus level, and that would result in demand for more goods which the economy can produce, like cars. But before you can get more cars in the streets, you need more roads.”