The Philippines improves in Ease of Doing Business world report

Doing business in the Philippines continue to improve, mainly due to the initiatives instituted by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

During the agency’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Summit, titled “Forging Forward, Overcoming Adversity: Ease of Doing Business in the Time of Pandemic”, on last Thursday, May 6, ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica reported the country’s progress.

The 2020 World Bank – Doing Business Report showed the Philippines ranked 95th out of 190 economies with a score of 62.8, jumping 29 notches from no. 124 and a score of 57.68 in 2019.

The World Bank (WB) rates a country’s EODB performance based on 10 indicators that represent the life cycle of a business: Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Registering Property, Getting Credit, Protecting Minority Investors, Paying Taxes, Trading Across Borders, Enforcing Contracts, and Resolving Insolvency.

“We significantly leap-frogged on three indicators – Protecting Minority Investors, Getting Credit, and Dealing with Construction Permits,” Belgica said.

ARTA is doubling its efforts to further make positive changes in the EODB situation.

Despite the pandemic, the agency was able to work on its goal of streamlining and re-engineering of government processes and enforcing zero-contact policy through accessible online government transactions, and mandatory electronic-Business One-Stop-Shop (BOSS) in local governments, among others.

Survey method questioned

However, the ARTA chief raised anew his concerns on how the World Bank conducts its survey, particularly on the seeming failure to reflect improvements in other indicators, prompting him to reiterate his appeal to the organization to review its methodology.

Among the issues he mentioned were the “inconsistencies with the results of the customer satisfaction survey by agencies against the assessment of the DB (Doing Business) respondents”.

“(It) may have emanated from the fact that the persons who responded to the WB Survey are not the same persons transacting with the agencies/ LGU. It may be that the respondents to the survey of WB are officials of the Law/ Accounting firms while persons transacting with the agencies/ LGUs are the liaison officers or processors or clerks or sometimes messengers of the Law/ Accounting firms,” Belgica said.

“Some respondents may not be those who are transacting in Quezon City. With this, there may be a possibility that the responses were their experience from other local government units,” he added.

Belgica also stressed the need to have “clear distinction between the preparation time of the applicant and the processing time of the agencies”.

To address these, the anti-red tape chief presented a number of recommendations.

“DB Survey Team would filter and select entities who have experienced the process or regulations as specifically indicated in the case study assumptions of the indicators…there is also a need to brief the respondents very well to ensure that they have the right appreciation of the survey and even the assumptions,” Belgica said.

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