Feature: Advocacy for 'one-stop-shop' e-business registry in RP
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu, Philippines (22 March) -- There is an urgent need for a 'one-stop-shop' e-business registry in the country today to compete in the world investment market.
"Convergence and convenience in processing business registration and documents such as permits, clearances, and the like," said Minerva Yap, coordinator of the National economic Research and Business Assistance Center (NERBAC) of the Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI-7) in Central Visayas.
Yap said the Philippines is losing its foreign investors to china, Russia and India because "of our round-about- ways and long red tape in our present systems, procedures, and processes in registering a company or business in the country.
"This has translated a dismal showing in the country's business registration and licensing competitiveness compared to its neighbors in the ASEAN regions," Yap noted.
According to Yap, in the 2007 World Competitiveness annual review, the Philippines was ranked at 45 in a list of 55 countries in its capacity and ability to create and maintain an environment conducive to business.
The report further read that countries like China, Russia, India, the Slovak Republic, Estonia, Sweden, Austria, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland and Hongkong had caught up quickly in their competitive performance through strong improvement in their business registry environment.
"The economic and business power is now shifting to new countries," Yap observed. China, Russia and India have together stacked up more than $1.700-Billion in foreign currency reserves and local companies from Southeast Asia, India, China, Russia and the Gulf countries are now buying industrial assets the world over, Yap added.
On the other hand, Indonesia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, France and the Philippines lost their grounds despite some real and specific competitive advantages.
In a most recent study done by an independent Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, it listed a number of challenges that the Philippines needs to address if it is to improve its standing in the list of the international institute for management development.
The study said, there is a need for regulatory agencies in the Philippines to undertake capacity-building to ensure transparency, non-discrimination and procedural fairness.
Second in the need-to-do list is for the country to improve the distribution of infrastructure through faster turn-around times and lower transaction costs.
The most vital of all is the need to accelerate the implementation of e-governance projects, or computerization of systems and procedures to promote transparency and facilitate trade.
The Answer: The Philippine Business Registry (PBR)
The answer to these woes is to establish the Philippine Business Registry (PBR). It is a web-based IT system designed to allow online filing of applications for all business entities, corporations, cooperatives and others for their business registration, business permits and licenses, or business dissolution.
It uses a single date entry facility with links to the systems of national government agencies and local government units. In essence, the PBR streamlines business registration-related procedures and it aims to create a national business registry database.
According to Yap, presently, various agencies in the country have different processes related to business registration. It runs a system of their own, independent from all other systems of other agencies.
"The PBR intends to put together common information from the various databases of agencies to streamline registration requirements and processes," Yap added.
It will also harmonize business registration by assigning a unique Philippine Business Number (PBN) that serves as the identification key of each registered business entity to contract and avail of various good and services in the country.
"This will actually help improve the government's regulatory and promotional functions," the NERBAC coordinator said.
The PBR will not only ensure faster business registration, the single-window online processing system facilitates paperless transactions and saves processing cost and time.
Implementation and status of the PBR
Implementation of the PBR project was done in phases. Phase-1 established the Business Registry and business application infrastructure that was done in December 2007.
Phase-2 instituted and established the Business Portal with all identified e-ready government agency systems that were fully interfaced with the PBR system. That was done in October 2008. This phase enabled the online application of business with SSS, PhilHealth and PAG-IBIG.
It also enabled the online filing of applications for licenses and clearances with industry-specific agencies, as well as online filing of requests for business dissolution.
All government agencies involved with business registration-related transactions form part of the PBR. Specifically, these are; the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) for the registration of partnerships and corporations while DTI and its bureaus for various business-related systems and databases.
The Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection for the registration of the business name thru the web-enabled business name registration system and the Board of Investments (BOI) for investment projects registration thru the Integrated Registration System (IRS).
Other agencies include the Bureau of Domestic Trade, Intellectual Property Office-Phils; BIR, SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-ibig and PEZA; DOF, BOC, Bureau of Treasury (BTR) and the CDA.
Based on EO 587 dated Dec. 8, 2006, the DTI has been directed to establish and administer the PBR project in coordination with all other concerned agencies.
In its November 2009 report, DTI said nineteen (19) out of the 28 stakeholders contacted have signed the memorandum of agreement that formalizes the commitments of the PBR Inter-Agency Consultative Committee that included DTI, BIR, CDA, DILG, Pag-ibig, LMP, LCP, PCCI, SSS and 10 other cities in Metro Manila.
According to DTI-7, the NERBA Centers and other DTI offices drafted the order for the adoption of the PBR Unified Printable Form. At least 20 LGUs in the country accepted the form as an alternative mode to participate in the PBR project.
This form was also used as the basis of the TWG of the standard business registration procedure to standardize business registration forms across the 16 NCR cities at the initial stage of the project.
To date, the data from DTI, SEC and CDA already form part of the business registry. Business registered under the PBR can already be searched @ www.business.gov.ph that began in January 2010.
The SEC is now in the bidding process for the development of a new registration system while the CDA has issued a policy for its offices nationwide to use PBR in the re-registration of cooperatives.
Within the 1st quarter of 2010, BIR e-Reg System is in the process of completing its source code and other requirements to complete the integration development with the Philippine Business Registry.
Lastly, the design and development of interface with other permit/license issuing agencies is on-going.
DTI-7 reported that out of 55 permit/issuing agencies it contacted, only 34 responded. Out of these, 10 are e-ready; two (2) are non-e-ready and four (4) will just be accessing the reports generation module of the PBR.
DTI continued that it deployed 26 information kiosks called PBR Zones in all 17 NCR LGUs; DTI-NCR; DTI-Head office and at other DTI offices, PTIC and BOI.
Lastly, strengthening of the NERBAC's IT infrastructure is almost complete which will become the PBR project centers in the Philippines, Yap concluded. (PIA-7/MBCN) [top]