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Where’s the red carpet?

Manila Standard

EARLIER this year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. bubbled over the significance of the inauguration of the P150-billion expanded petrochemical facility in Batangas as he inducted into office two individuals to join his Cabinet.

The two were former congressman Ralph Recto, who joined the President’s official family as the Secretary of Finance and Frederick Deck Go, as the Special Assistant for Investment and Economic Affairs.

With the rest of the economic team, they were tasked to create a climate that propels economic growth, boosts incentives, promotes ease of doing business and funds high-impact infrastructure.

“The bottom line of their assigned mission is this: To reduce red tape that chokes industry and innovation and replace it with a red carpet that ushers in capital, foreign and domestic, and provides the path towards progress,” the President said.

We understand from the President’s marching orders they and the rest of the economic team will do, but on a macro scale, what this multi-billion-peso complex has been doing: generate jobs, grow the economy, raise revenues, attract investors and unleash opportunities that will result in common prosperity.

Well marked words, as we have seen nauseating, if needlessly time-consuming, bureautic procedure.

Thus, the President ordered government agencies to streamline the issuance of permits for infrastructure flagship projects or IFPs, showing even top government projects are hindered by the red tape foreign investors are complaining about.

In Executive Order 59, the President stressed the need to further streamline the process for issuance of required licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations to expedite the implementation of IFPs, consistent with Republic Act 9485, as amended.

RA 9485, or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, was amended by RA 11032, which renamed the law as the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

EO 59 underlined the need to hasten the completion of 185 infrastructure flagship projects nationwide approved by the National Economic and Development Authority.

These are part of the Marcos administration’s P9.14-trillion Build Better More Program, and the issuance of the EO is seen as a tacit admission of the little progress in the fight against red tape, a persistent problem repeatedly cited by foreign investors as a deterrent to investing in the country.

Of the 185 flagship projects, 81 are financed through official development assistance, 51 through the General Appropriations Act, 45 through public-private partnerships and seven through hybrid financing modalities.

It is reassuring the Anti-Red Tape Authority or ARTA has responded to this by pushing forward for bureaucratic efficiency to ensure that processes in the government are suitable and faster for all Filipinos.

ARTA Director-General Ernesto Perez has underscored it is crucial the fight against red tape begins in the villages to ensure that efficient services are available closer to the people.

Efficient local government officials will ensure that problems about red tape in the villages will easily be addressed and will attract investors that will lead to economic improvement.

Republic Act 11032 mandates government offices to complete simple transactions within three days; complex transactions within seven days; and highly technical transactions within 20 days.

With this in place, the public can report to ARTA those who failed to deliver services on time.

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