In a joint memorandum circular, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Information and Communication Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Competitiveness Council enjoined local government units to cut the processing time for registering new businesses from five days to 1 ½ days.
Businesses renewing their registration should be able to accomplish the task in one day.
There should be only three steps for registering businesses, and two signatures required instead of the usual eight.
Said agencies signed the circular earlier this week in a bid to encourage foreign and local investors to set up shop here. According to the Ease of Doing Business report by the World Bank-International Finance Corp., the Philippines ranked poorly in “Starting a Business,” slipping eight places in the past year to 165th from 157th.
In overall ease of doing business, the Philippines ranked 103rd.
Curiously, a similar circular is said to have been issued six years ago, right at the beginning of the previous administration. Nobody knows what became of the document that likewise sought to make it easier to do business here. What is apparent is that it never achieved its purpose, and that the pains of putting up an enterprise remained until a new document had to be issued.
We have every reason to believe that the Duterte administration is serious about simplifying business transactions as a matter of national policy. It’s not a grand gesture, to be sure, but it sends a strong message that change can be observed in the small things so long as they are done consistently.
Local government units need to remove unnecessary obstacles to those who just want to earn an honest living. Doing so benefits everyone—except corrupt officials who can personally gain from a protracted process. Anyone who refuses to cut red tape might find themselves in this category.