MANILA – The Philippines' anti-red tape body on Thursday said it will begin auditing local government units on their compliance with orders to digitalize business permit processing.
The Anti Red-Tape Authority (ARTA) also warned that LGUs that fail the audit may face charges including graft raps.
ARTA said local government units across the country are required by law to set up an electronic business one-stop shop (eBOSS) system by June 17.
The eBOSS is meant to simplify business transactions with LGUs. Under the Ease of Doing Business Law, city and municipal governments have to establish their business one-stop shops, while Joint Memorandum Circular 01-2021 orders them to digitalize these platforms on or before June 17.
An eBOSS’ features include the submission of applications electronically, issuance of electronic tax bill or order of payment, acceptance of online payment, the release of digital versions of permits, licenses, and clearances. It also provides a gateway facility linked to courier services if a user prefers a physical copy of a document.
ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica said they will begin their audit with highly urbanized cities.
"Sila ang maraming negosyo, sila ang nangangailangan ng business one-stop shop. Sila ang maraming populasyon, sila rin ang maraming pera."
("They have more businesses and would need the business one-stop shop. They also have a bigger population and higher budget.")
Belgica shared, around 580 LGUs have already been using the Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System (iBPLS), a software developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). This platform allows users to apply and process building and occupancy permits electronically.
But Belgica also said, some LGUs may be using other digital platforms, which need to be checked if these already provide end-to-end services in terms of the permit application processes related to businesses.
Belgica warned LGUs that fail to comply with the deadline may face complaints, including graft raps, and violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials.
Though he also said the agency would support LGUs that have already begun their digital transition but are facing challenges.
"Pero pag nakita naman namin na hindi naman deliberate at ito po ay mahirap lamang gawin pero mayroon silang earnest desire, tutulungan po natin 'yan," Belgica explained.
("But if we see they this is not deliberate and that they're just facing challenges but they have an earnest desire to comply, we will help them.")
ARTA Deputy Director General Ernesto Perez meanwhile said LGUs have no excuse for not complying as the digital platform was already released by the DICT, "months ago."
Likewise, he shared, they've teamed up with the National Business Permit and Licensing Officers Association of the Philippines to help LGUs access the system offered by the DICT.
Based on a report by the Department of Interior and Local Government 94 percent of LGUs have already started their automation and digitalization efforts, but Belgica said they need to ensure that these provide end-to-end services.
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