The National Competitiveness Council (NCC), the public-private sector task force on the country’s competitiveness, said the goal of scoring high in the annual Doing Business rankings can be attained this year as the country pushes for automation of procedures at all levels of government.
In a briefing on Thursday, NCC private sector co-chairman Guillermo Luz said that they are “confident” that the country will reach its target of 63rd spot in the World Bank (WB)-International Finance Corp (IFC) Doing Business Report for 2016.
In 2015, the country dropped to 103rd place out of 189 economies in the WB-IFC report, after reaching the 95th spot in 2014.
The goal for 2016 is a long-running target for NCC. Luz said the NCC is working towards attaining the 63rd spot by focusing on reducing steps and days in “starting a business” as well as “paying taxes.”
Luz said they aim to reduce the procedures for starting a business to “six steps and eight days” this year, and further reduce these to “three steps and three days” by 2017, compared with the current 16 steps and 29 days to start a new business in the country.
Also this year, the NCC co-chair said the procedures for paying taxes should be reduced to a total of 13 payments requiring less than the current 193 hours of work to settle taxes, compared to the 36 payments needed in 2015.
“To achieve this, we have required government agencies to have a one-stop shop or integrate all their processes into one or two days. Automation is also needed, as well as the expansion of front line offices to better the services,” Luz said, stressing the importance of shifting to online applications and procedures given the hassle of frequent heavy traffic situations in the metro.
This year, the NCC is focusing on requiring agencies and local government units to integrate all their processes, primarily those related to starting a business and getting a permit, as well as in paying taxes, into one day.
After the integration of government procedures by end-2016, the NCC shall then work on the automation or shift to online processes and applications in 2017.
For his part, Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal said that these efforts are intended to benefit micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“The target is to reduce the number of steps and days to secure permits,” leading to lower costs for small enterprises, Cristobal said, adding that permitting procedures should be improved in the whole government, even in the barangays.