ARTA says upgrades to regional operations will require more funding

THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said on Wednesday that it is hoping the Senate approves the P200 million enhancement in funding that the House has agreed to, which will allow it to upgrade the agency’s regional operations. 

ARTA Secretary Ernesto V. Perez told reporters on the sidelines of the Ease of Doing Business Convention on Wednesday that the funding allocated for ARTA by the Department of Budget and Management was only P280 million, much lower than its P800 million request.

“When it went through the deliberations in the House, our budget was increased by P200 million,” Mr. Perez said.

“Right now, it is currently with the Senate and we hope the Senate will also endorse the recommendation of the House to increase our budget by P200 million,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved on final reading its version of the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget bill.

In the report issued by the Senate Finance Committee, ARTA’s budget was retained at the P490 million agreed to by the House of Representatives in the House Bill 8980 or the proposed General Appropriations Act. 

“We will use the additional budget to expand our regional operations because at the moment, we only have eight regional operations,” Mr. Perez said.

“With that increase, we will increase the number of our employees and increase our regional offices so that we will be present in all the regions,” he added.

Currently, ARTA is present in Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, the Eastern Visayas, the Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Eastern Mindanao, and Western Mindanao.

“You know, even if the budget of ARTA is small, we are still able to (operate) because we get the support of the chambers of commerce, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and foreign governments such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Canada,” said Mr. Perez.

“(As such), we will be launching the Philippine Business Regulation Information System (PBRIS)… together with the Anti-Red Tape Electronic Management Information System (ARTEMIS),” he added.

PBRIS will serve as a central repository of all the regulations issued and implemented by all government agencies to ensure harmonization in regulatory procedures.

ARTEMIS will help in streamlining the submission and management of Citizen’s Charters through allowing government agencies to submit and update their charters and enabling the public to view, download, and comment on them. 

“What is good about these two systems is that they were developed at practically no financial cost to the government because these were created through the technical assistance of the USAID,” said Mr. Perez.

Meanwhile, Mr. Perez said ARTA is still waiting on the private sector’s recommendation or proposal on the proposed storage fee increases of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). 

The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) recommended in a position letter addressed to the port regulator that the fee hikes undergo a regulatory impact assessment.

“Of course, with that recommendation, what we always say is that if there is a proposed increase by way of a regulation, it should undergo the regulatory impact assessment,” said Mr. Perez.

“It is the mandate of ARTA to require the PPA to subject any proposed regulation to increase fees to conduct regulatory impact assessment,” he added.

In its proposal, the PPA is planning to increase the storage charges by 32% for import, export, and transshipment containers and to add a 150% surcharge on the corresponding storage rates for refrigerated containers.

According to Philexport, the proposed increase in fees was presented in an online public consultation held on Oct. 18.

“We are yet to receive any formal request about it, but once we receive it, we will immediately act on it … We can write to the PPA to express the concern and to request them to submit to us the regulatory impact,” Mr. Perez said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile