Press Releases Archived (September 2015)

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Stronger cooperation and coordination among various regulatory bodies can be a great help in achieving competitiveness.

This was the consensus of local regulators, local government officials, and media who attended the press conference on the Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) in Cagayan De Oro City last September 9.

Speaking at the weekly Kapihan of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Cagayan De Oro City, Dr. Danilo Israel, senior fellow at state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), emphasized the need for regulators to work together to address issues and promote ease of doing business. He also cited the need for a framework to review and study all these regulations so that flaws can be identified and proper solutions can be introduced.

"The trend of the world right now is towards economic integration. As a member of the ASEAN Economic Community, we need to be competitive with other countries in order to attract more investments and generate more jobs for our people. However, we cannot be competitive with other countries if our regulations are complicated," Israel commented.

One of the important factors that government should look at is the ease of doing business. Cutting down the steps in applying for business permits, for example, will encourage more people, especially foreign investors, to engage in business.

Israel cited an upcoming project of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) called Project Repeal that aims to revoke laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business and hinder competitiveness. At present, the NCC is gathering information on what laws and regulations to repeal and once these have been identified, the NCC will work with Congress in repealing such laws and regulations and establish a structure to oversee the process in 2016.

Meanwhile, Mr. Leonil Mistula, division chief at the City Treasurers Office in Cagayan De Oro, noted that the City Government has made a lot of progress in streamlining certain processes such as in the areas of processing of business licenses, issuance of community tax certificates, and payment of taxes.

According to Mistula, applying for new business permits in Cagayan De Oro only involves three steps: submission and assessment of documents, payment, and claiming of business permits. He emphasized that as long as an applicant has all the documents needed to apply for a business permit, issuance of business permit could be within the day of application. Renewal of business permits, on the other hand, can already be made through computer kiosks at the City Hall without the need for face-to-face interaction. Also, people may now apply for community tax certificates using their Android smart phones, then pay the corresponding fees through mobile money such as G-Cash. Mistula also noted that the City Hall has a very efficient queuing system, so people know which counter to go to transact business.

"Through these improvements, we were able to eliminate fixers and made transactions faster and easier for people," Mistula said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nelson Manaloto, assistant regional director for Region X of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), said LTO has intensified its campaign against fixers through proper dissemination of information and investigation on the possible mediators.

Manaloto noted that applying for registration, for example, through fixers will only delay the process. He noted that LTO is an ISO-certified agency and it guarantees timely release of papers as long as all the required documents are submitted.

When asked about the proliferation of fly-by-night insurance companies and the different insurance rates among car insurance companies, Manaloto pointed out that the LTO does not regulate insurance companies since this is a function of the Insurance Commission. What LTO can do, he said, is to accredit insurance companies to make sure they are not fly-by-night companies.

"There are high and low insurance rates. Its a free market where you can choose the insurance coverage you want," Manaloto stated.

Likewise, Manaloto assured that LTO is doing its best to resolve backlogs on the issuance of vehicle registration plates and drivers license cards. Printers and plastic cards are now available, problems should be fixed in the next few weeks once printers are delivered to LTO satellite offices throughout the region, he explained.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Department of Trade and Industrys (DTI) Regional Office in Northern Mindanao highlighted the need for stronger consumer culture. According to Mr. Fel Lester Brillantes, chief of Consumer Welfare Division of DTI Region X, the country has enough laws to protect consumer rights and welfare. The challenge, he pointed out, is the seeming inability of consumers to invoke his/her consumer right. In particular, he pointed out the confusion among consumers on which government agency to file their complaints to.

"Since the DTI is not only the sole implementing agency of the Consumer Act, people get confused on where to file their complaints," Brillantes said. He cited the case of filing a complaint related to expired medicines with the DTI, when in fact this should have been filed with the Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over the sale of medical products. There is also confusion in filing complaints related to mobile phones. According to Brillantes, consumers should file complaints related to their handsets with the DTI while network-related complaints should be filed with the National Telecommunications Communications.

Brillantes also noted that the DTI is working with local government units and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the implementation of the Business Permit and Licensing System (BPLS). BPLS refers to the procedures followed by cities and municipalities in processing business permits.

Based on the latest Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Misamis Oriental is the second most competitive province in the Philippines, with the municipality of Mambajao (Camiguin) as the most competitive municipality in the Philippines among the third- to sixth-class municipalities. For highly urbanized cities, Cagayan De Oro City ranked as the sixth most competitive in the country. The Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index is an annual ranking of Philippine cities and municipalities developed by the National Competitiveness Council through the Regional Competitiveness Committees.

The press conference in Cagayan De Oro City was held in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency in celebration of the 13th DPRM. Through these regional press conferences, PIDS hopes to further increase its reach at the local level and draw awareness in the provinces of the importance of policy research and this years DPRM theme, "Tamang Regulasyon para sa Patuloy na Pag-ahon".

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LAOAG CITY - The Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) rolled into the city of Laoag on September 16. With the help of the Philippine Information Agency-Region 1 and the Northwestern University, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) convened academe and local government officials, and university students in a forum that tackled this years DPRM theme, "Tamang Regulasyon para sa Patuloy na Pag-Ahon".

Dr. Sheila Siar, director of the Research Information Department of PIDS, shared the purpose of the 13th DPRM celebration and the importance of the theme.

The diverse panel of discussants included Mr. Benjamin Garcia, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Ms. Susan Gagarin, assistant chief of the Provincial Land Transportation Office, and Mr. Ronald John P Gabriel, officer-in- charge of the Licensing Division Office at Batac City.

"The DPRM is a nationwide advocacy," explained Siar. "To be effective, to be more relevant, for our policies and programs to be more responsive to the needs of our people, our policies must be based on research evidence."

The theme for this years DPRM focuses on the countrys need to establish a strong regulatory management system.

"To further prepare for the ASEAN Economic Community, the Philippines needs to create a more competitive business environment. To realize this, we need laws and regulations that are less burdensome for local and foreign investors," Siar said.

A poor regulatory environment, which is rooted in poorly crafted or weakly implemented regulations, creates regulatory failures that restrict growth. They diminish the benefits of economic growth and render progress less inclusive and less sustainable by discouraging participation and leaving out potential investors and business.

The open forum focused on what local governments are doing to improve their regulatory processes and enhance the ease of doing business in their respective agencies.

Simplifying government procedures

Gabriel shared the best practices adopted so far by Batac City.

Business applications in Batac are now conducted in a one-stop shop where all the necessary offices"Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and DTI, among others"may be accessed under one roof throughout the application review and approval process. The local government has also initiated services like delivery of approved permits in case applicants are not available to claim them. Batac is also one of a handful of cities in the region that has adopted the electronic business permit process and licensing system to hasten the process of issuing business permits and licenses.

Meanwhile, Garcia of the provincial DTI office shared the efforts of the Regional Competitiveness Council, a mirror of the National Competitiveness Council, to improve the regions standing in the competitiveness index.

Not too long ago, regional offices had to send all applications for business name registration to Manila for approval. The regional mandate was only charged to check the applications for completeness. During the administration of Former President Fidel Ramos, the authority to sign business name certificates was delegated to the DTI provincial directors. The registration functions were further delegated to the provincial offices under the Arroyo administration, with the adoption of the national database checking.

Under the Aquino administration, business names can now be registered in 10 minutes minus the queuing time.

Recent innovations also include the online filing of business name application. DTI is currently developing an e-payment system to offer complete online services.

In terms of promoting consumer welfare, Garcia said the local DTI runs on a no wrong door policy whereby it entertains all queries and complaints. If these do no fall under their authority, Garcia said they do not turn people away but direct them to the proper agency.

The provincial LTO has also aligned the simplification of drivers licenses and car registration with national standards. According to Gagarin, the nationwide changes to car plates have made coordination easier between other agencies and regional LTO offices. The new car plate sequence no longer relies on alphanumerical codes to indicate the place of car registration. Instead, the new car plates being issued today indicate the region of issue, making it easier for agencies to coordinate and verify with LTO offices across the country over interregional investigations.

In addition, the provincial LTO offices can now print the drivers licenses they issue. They no longer have to wait for the licenses to be printed in Manila, which normally takes six months to complete, Gagarin said.

Further research and cooperation

Siar praised the local government representatives for introducing innovations to improve the ease of doing business and enhance the quality of regulations in their respective offices.

She emphasized the importance of interagency coordination, as some regulations specific to one sector may have negative effects on other sectors.

As promoted by the DPRM celebration, proper conduct of policy research and close coordination between regulatory bodies, line agencies, and local government are essential to improving regulatory quality and ensuring a more sustainable economic growth. ###

If you wish to know more about the Development Policy Research Month, please visit this link.

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PIDS President Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto will be one of the speakers at a side event on innovations in using big data for humanitarian response during the September 2015 General Assembly in New York.

This high-level meeting, which will be held on September 28 in the margins of the 70th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, is being co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of the Philippines, and the UN Secretary-Generals Global Pulse Initiative. It will be at the ministerial level, and include senior executives from private sector, UN agencies, academia, and civil society.

The discussion will cover two dimensions. First, there will be an overview of the opportunities presented by real-time digital data (such as information derived from social media, mobile phone, and other digital transactions) for the humanitarian sector. Second, a discussion will follow on the need for new partnership models for sustainable access to big data, and new policies for the responsible use of big data that can foster humanitarian innovation. The outcomes of the meeting will serve as input to the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

With the explosion of information and communication technologies, particularly mobile phone-based services, real-time digital data is being generated in ever-increasing volumes every time a phone call is made, money is transferred, or a credit card or GPS device is used. This has resulted in a continuous production of large amounts of digital data, also referred to as big data, which can provide valuable insights into what people think, say and do in real-time. Due to this digital revolution, disaster-affected communities are generating big data"before, during, and after the onset of an emergency"and the humanitarian community has become increasingly interested in the integration of real-time data analytics into field operations.

The world of big data offers a myriad of opportunities for humanitarian action, ranging from enhancing early warning systems to contributing to the process of conducting needs assessments. For example, dynamic real-time information can be leveraged to predict population movement patterns, derive trend information on spending patterns, monitor the spread of disease outbreak, or measure the effectiveness of quarantine. However, significant challenges related to privacy protection and sharing of data between the private and public sectors, together with limited institutional capacity, have hindered innovation.

[ Click here to read Dr. Llanto's remarks ]