Red tape has been a systemic encumbrance to improving the environment of business and industry and increasing the competitiveness of the Philippine economy. Characterized by superfluous and deterring procedures, red tape had burdened the impact produced by our valuable time and financial resources and has led to the apparent ineptitude of government agencies in developing programs for the Filipino interests.
To cull a passage from a World Bank study entitled “Doing Business 2007: How to Reform,” an entrepreneur in the Philippines who plans to start up a business has to comply with 11 separate procedures that will take an average of 48 days with an estimated cost of 18.7% of income per capita to complete. This “rite of passage” is discrete from the process of obtaining a business license since such requires 23 steps, 197 days, and a cost of 113.4% of income per capita. The same business of obtaining a license in an Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD) member country translates to only 14.1 steps, 146.9 days, and costs 75% of income per capita. The obvious disparity in the number of procedures/steps, days and percentage cost practiced in our country versus those in OECD countries is a cause of despondency and even shame to those of us in the public service. These figures form the shameful summation of why we have increasingly lost our competitive advantage in attracting foreign investments.
The environment of serpentine yet mandatory bureaucratic rules and procedures have naturally given rise to diverse, opportunistic networks of corruption. The 2006 SWS survey attests to a decline in the net sincerity among government institutions in fighting corruption. Indeed, red tape is like the mythical hydra, always ready to grow another of its kind. But that’s not all. The somewhat insurmountable problem of red tape is further compounded by the presence of its inevitable cohort, corruption, and these two have maniacally orchestrated the Sissyphian mess that is our country’s business climate.
Public office is a public trust. Indicating that the government should function as a partner in growth. However, this phrase has devolved into a pedestrian nomenclature, a pocket of change only attended to when a convenient byline or campaign speech filler is called upon. The attributes that ought to characterize public officers and employees put forth by the Constitution have already been distorted like a giant freak show through the labyrinthine warren of corrupt practices prevalent in our present-day bureaucracy.
Past efforts to simplify and revitalize the efficacy of government processes by reducing or eliminating red tape have failed to produce tangible results. But that precedent should not become a deterrent. There is no better time than now to put our house in order: to seek and eliminate red tape once and for all and to simplify processes whenever possible. Like Hercules in the epic battle against the hydra, we must strike at the very root of the problem to prevent its reemergence in the future.
Thus it is the policy of the anti-red tape act of 2007 to promote integrity, accountability, proper management of public affairs and public property as well as to establish effective practices aimed at the prevention of graft and corruption in the government.
This proposed legislation aims to provide a feasible approach to this problem by requiring all government agencies and instrumentalities to adopt a fixed time period within which transactions passing through their respective agencies ought to be completed. Under this act, simple transactions must be completed within 5 working days. As for complex transactions, a period of 10 days is given for its accomplishment. In order to ensure the speedy processing of applications and/or requests, this bill also limits the number of required signatories for any document to a maximum of 5 signatures.
The Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 seeks to revive the principles of expediency, transparency and integrity back among the ranks of government. In line with this a citizen’s charter or informative billboards shall be created in all concerned agencies. These billboards will aid the public as they go about the different steps involved in obtaining their application and/or request from the said agency. More importantly, this measure proposes a regular assessment and upgrading of the frontline services of such government offices to ensure that red tape is kept at a minimum, if not eliminated.
At the cornerstone of every encumberance to economic growth are indefensible government regulations. It has been already well-documented that one of the paramount reasons why most people are robbed of the opportunity or the desire to start up a business is the unnecessary burden of dealing with the bureaucracy.
It is simply deplorable that what would take months in our country to obtain all the necessary permits and approvals from all the pertinent authorities takes only weeks in other, more progressive countries and often through just one kiosk or even through the Internet.
I hope today’s initiative, the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, will gain the full support of my colleagues in this hallowed halls.