Faster gov't transactions soon? Congress to pass stronger anti-red tape bill by yearend, says Zubiri

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 07:53 PM

MANILA - Both chambers of Congress are committed to pass before the end of the year the expanded anti-red tape act that would ease government transactions, as the Senate marked a "milestone" passing the measure on final reading. 

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said this Tuesday, optimistic that the House of Representatives would also soon pass its version of the measure so that President Rodrigo Duterte could sign the bill into law before the year closes. 

"[There is a] commitment from both houses [to] pass this into law," Zubiri, among the bill's sponsors, told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.

The Senate has just approved the bill on third and final reading.

"If we can approve it earlier, we can have it done before the October [session] break so [the] President can sign it into law before the break," he said.

"This is a milestone because the President wishes red tape lessened in our country," he said.

The measure aims to promote transparency in government and to cut processing time of applications for permits and licenses. It also adds criminal penalties- imprisonment of up to 6 years- to give teeth to the law. 

The existing law against red tape only imposes administrative penalties, said Zubiri, chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

LESSER PROCESSING TIME 

Under the Senate version, business permit applications of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should be processed no longer than 3 working days, while complex transactions should not take beyond 7 working days.

Government agencies, meanwhile, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are allowed a maximum of 20 days to process permit applications.

Zubiri said the bill also provides for the creation of an anti-red tape bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry, which may be accessed by anyone who wants to file a complaint. 

"It’s action agad on these complaints. Finally, para matakot [ang violators]. This is very important because, finally, we can put more teeth to our anti-red tape drive," he said.

The President has pressed for easier government transactions since assuming the presidency.