• ‘Millions in savings from repeal of old rules’

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    The Philippines can enjoy millions of pesos in savings from the repeal of outdated and redundant laws, rules and regulations, and at the same time reduce corruption and improve the efficiency of the government, the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) said on Monday.

    NCC co-chairman Guillermo Luz told reporters after the 1st Repeal Day on Monday that there are already 3,959 department orders (DO) at various stages in the repeal process—2,032 which have already been repealed, 22 subject to consolidation, five to be amended, and 1,900 still subject to repeal.

    NCC’s Project Repeal seeks to identify laws, department orders, executive orders, and other government issuances that are outdated, redundant, and can cause bureaucratic red tape.

    Luz and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima both said that both the government and private sectors in the Philippines can expect savings from reducing the  regulations by eliminating the requirements and the processing costs associated with them.

    Purisima cited examples of other countries’ versions of Project Repeal: Australia saved about $4.6 billion in two years through removal of red tape; the United Kingdom saved more than 100 million pounds for the housing sector alone; South Korea eliminated 48.8 percent and simplified 21.7 percent of their regulations, leading to savings worth 4.4 percent of the gross domestic product; while Vietnam firms save up to $50 million yearly from removal of some regulations.

    “This kind of data makes me look forward to how our own initiative will produce results in the coming years,” Purisima said.

    As for the Philippines, Luz said the NCC will be able to come up with savings estimate by the end of the year.

    The current DOs to be repealed are part of the 17,388 laws and issuances gathered for review by the Project Re-peal Technical Working Group from crowdsourced proposals from various business groups, firms and individuals.

    Aside from the 3,959 DOs being repealed, Luz said there are still 552 other DOs that are being kept for further re-view, and which will be tackled on the next “Repeal Day” tentatively slated for early December.

    Luz noted that they prioritized the repeal of DOs first, as the NCC can manage these. The repeal of Republic Acts, on the other hand, require the intervention of Congress, and city ordinances included in the program are handled by local government units.

    The NCC also announced during the event that it has tied up with eight government agencies to identify unnecessary regulations in their respective areas in order to further eliminate red tape.

    These eight agencies taking part in the project are the Departments of Trade and Industry;
    Finance; Budget and Management; Tourism; the Securities and Exchange Commission; and the Land Transporta-tion Franchising and Regulatory Board.

    New ‘efficiency’ office

    Also at the conference, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said that in relation to the repealing of outdated and redundant laws, he is also moving to pass “a hundred bills” in the 17th Congress, which begins its term on July 25, in particular, the Philippine Efficiency Office Bill, which will create a new office that will be responsible for im-proving efficiency in government through double-checking for possible redundancy and contradiction of new laws with existing ones.

    Aquino said the bills would be filed, or in some cases re-filed, starting July 1.

    “The Philippine Efficiency Office [would do]what the NCC is doing. But there is no law that mandates the NCC, just an EO [Executive Order]. When we institutionalize an office that would look for efficiency, it’s a big thing because then we can cross-reference the new laws being created from the already existing ones,” Aquino said.

    “During committee hearings, the Philippine Efficiency Office could already give comments and analyze current de-partment orders, and see if there are contradictions,” the senator said.

    “In general, we should be pushing for less regulation. We like to always regulate. Our business owners, they are burdened; even just for taxation…Hopefully the Philippine Efficiency Office can really push for this. If we are effi-cient, corruption is less. We’ve seen that in different agencies. Once they moved to digitizing and they became efficient, corruption levels are lower,” he added.

    He said the Philippine Efficiency Office would be aligned with the NCC’s Project Repeal in its goal to “promote ease of doing business and at the same time, be a major effort against corruption.”

    “At this point our economy is booming, we can’t afford to slow down. We need to continue this fast growth in the next six to 10 years. Hopefully our efforts and proposed bills will really support that,” Aquino added.

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