'Simplify,' Duterte tells agencies as he targets red tape

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2019 05:54 PM

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday "much is to be done" to make government agencies more responsive, as he reiterated his resolve to cut red tape.

Duterte said that based on complaints sent the government's hotline, the Social Security System, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Registration Authority and the Pagibig housing fund "need to drastically improve their service."

The President said he also recently signed the Ease of Doing Business law, which aims to make transacting with government faster.

"Simplify and make your services responsive, client-friendly. Your client is the Filipino. Our employer from where money in our pockets come from," he said.

On his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte is moving to deliver on his promises to build P8 trillion in new infrastructure, overhaul the tax system and stop "endo" or illegal contractualization.

He also addressed the nation against the backdrop of cooling inflation and slowing economic growth due to the failure of lawmakers to pass this year's budget on time.

Investors were were closely watching Duterte's statement on the second wave of tax reforms that aims to lower corporate duties and rationalize fiscal incentives, analysts said.

"This is sort of an appropriate path to take to be able to fund the infrastructure program so you need to broaden the tax base. I think that’s the thing that should be ironed out," said Nomura ASEAN economist Euben Paracuelles.

Duterte should take advantage of his political capital to push for reforms in his last 3 years in office, said Bob Herrera-Lim, managing director of risk consultancy firm Teneo.

"That political capital is important but if you take a look at the numbers, that political capital evaporates within the short amount of time. We saw that in inflation last year," he said.

Gross domestic product growth in the January to June period was at its slowest in 4 years due to the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget. Duterte's economic managers said they were drafting a "catch-up" plan for spending.

Inflation returned to its downward path in June as government measures to tame food prices kicked in, giving the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas room to cut interest rates further.

Last February, the government broke ground on the Metro Manila Subway, one of the centerpiece projects of Duterte's P8 trillion "Build, Build, Build."

The 36-kilometer subway will stretch from Valenzuela on the capital's northern end to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, promising as fast as 30 minutes of travel time from end to end. The first 3 stations in Valenzuela, Tandang Sora and North Avenue are expected to be operational by the end of the President's term in 2022.