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Metro Manila mayors agree to simplify registration rules

Vol. XXII, No. 143 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Friday, February 20, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


METRO MANILA mayors have agreed to simplify business registration procedures within the first quarter to improve the country’s attractiveness to investors, especially in light of the global economic crisis.

Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr., Mandaluyong mayor and also president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), said a covenant had been signed on Wednesday.

It was in response, he added, to the World Bank’s "Doing Business" report which showed an even poorer performance for the Philippines in terms of the ease of doing business.

The report, released last September, ranked the Philippines 140th in 2008, down from 136th a year earlier, out of 181 economies studied.

"We signed a covenant for a uniform process of business registration and to cut down on the steps to provide a business-friendly environment," Mr. Abalos said yesterday at the sidelines of the LCP’s second national convention.

"This joint effort is also our gift to the people as we face an economic crisis."

Marietta S. Patag, LCP deputy executive director and a member of the technical working group which formulated the simplified business registration scheme, said each Metro Manila local government had committed to soon issue an executive order fulfilling the covenant.

"We hope it can be implemented in the first quarter of the year," she said.

The procedure for obtaining a new business permit, she said, has been divided into two phases: the issuance phase which must be completed within 10 working days, and the post-issuance phase whose time frame would be separately determined by each local government.

The issuance phase covers the following:

* securing a business name registration online with the Department of Trade and Industry for single proprietorship and the Securities and Exchange Commission for corporations;

* obtaining a certificate of paid-in capital with the bank;

* securing a barangay clearance;

* submission of all requirements to the Business Process and Licensing Office, which will provide a one-time assessment of fees and set a date for an inspection to be conducted by a joint team from the city’s health or sanitary, building or engineer’s, and waste management offices;

* one-time payment of all fees at the treasurer’s office; and

* granting of a business permit.

Ms. Patag said the post-issuance phase would cover Bureau of Fire Protection inspection and clearance, Bureau of Internal Revenue registration, payment of documentary stamp taxes, and registration with the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund).

Makati Mayor Jejomar C. Binay and Jeffe Minglana, Taguig business process and licensing office head, yesterday said their local governments were currently drafting ordinances to implement the agreement.

Once in place, Mr. Abalos said the LCP would look into expanding the scheme outside Metro Manila within the year.

Ms. Patag said the United States Agency for International Development had expressed interest to fund the program’s implementation in cities outside Metro Manila. But she said formal discussions have yet to be held on the matter.

Asked to comment, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Edgardo B. Lacson said the scheme "would very much be welcomed since it reduces red tape, reduces unnecessary steps, and lessens corruption."

He said local governments could also address other reforms that would attract business such as improving the flow of traffic and ensuring peace and order.

The covenant was signed by the city mayors of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela; the municipal mayor of Pateros; and the secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Trade and Industry.

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