LGUs directed to set up electronic business one-stop shops by June

Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs) will be required to move their entire business permit application processes online by mid-June, the Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said.

ARTA and other government agencies on Tuesday signed a joint memorandum circular (JMC) to standardize the online business registration process that would slash the number of required application forms to just one.

Under the circular, all LGUs have to set up the electronic business one-stop shop or automate their business processing and licensing systems by June 17.

Local governments that have fully put up an online business registration service must cut the number of steps to one. Those transitioning to a fully automated system must have a maximum of four steps under a hybrid manual and digital process.

Business registration must be processed within three business days, while the number of signatories on permits must be reduced to three people.

“We are expecting that by June, LGUs, at least the highly urbanized cities (HUC) and the cities — which is 147 of them — should already have their electronic business one- stop shops,” ARTA Director General Jeremiah B. Belgica said at an online briefing on Tuesday.

“Kasi kung hindi nakakapag-automate ’yung mga HUCs oyung mga cities (If the big cities have not automated), all the more the municipalities would be having questions: bakit kami tinutulak eh ’yung mga mas malalaki hindi pa nag-automate (Then why were we pushed to automate when the bigger cities have not done so)?”

All cities, Mr. Belgica added, already have at least some measure of automation.

“What the JMC is calling for is end-to-end automation. Ibig sabihin po, hindi lang automated sa submission, automated sa payment, o sa release. But even the backend of which should also be automated.”

Local governments were given three years from the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Law signed in 2018 to set up an online business registration system.

Mr. Belgica said that ARTA will assess LGUs that cannot meet the June 17 deadline.

“If there is a very apparent disregard in the provisions of the law or of the JMC… then definitely it would lead to an investigation and even filing of a case for disregard of duty, pero we are hoping na ’di na umabot sa ganoon.”

The JMC was signed by representatives from ARTA, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“This JMC will guide local government units on implementing a zero-contact policy envisioned to reduce corruption through the use of online portals,” DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

ARTA also plans to issue a circular addressing complaints on fees imposed by local government units on the goods being transported to or through their areas.