By Elijah Felice Rosales, February 26 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Department of Trade and Industry

TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez on Monday said the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) law is already in effect in spite of nonexistent rules, and told firms to
file a complaint if they experience red tape in their transactions with the government.

In an interview with reporters, Lopez reminded government agencies to roll out the provisions of the EODB law even without the implementing rules and regulations (IRR). This primarily involves cutting the processing time for obtaining permits, licenses and documents. “The EODB law is already being implemented, that has to be clarified. The Act is being implemented, and anyone can file a complaint against agencies who will violate its provisions,” Lopez said.

“We need not wait for the IRR for the EODB law to be rolled out,” he added.

Lopez was responding to statements from lawmakers and business groups calling for the immediate implementation of the EODB law. The law is banked on to cut red tape in the bureaucracy and improve Philippine competitiveness in attracting investments.

It, however, has yet to see full swing, as President Duterte has yet to appoint the director general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta), which will be the lead agency in rolling out the provisions of the law.

“The only problem now is we still don’t have the director general for the Arta tasked to issue the IRR to the public. It is stated in the law that the director general is the only one authorized to officially issue the IRR,” Lopez explained. “The IRR might not yet be officially issued, but that does not mean the law is not in effect,” he clarified.

Should there be delays in obtaining government documents, businessmen can file a case at the Arta, Department of Trade and Industry, Office of the Ombudsman or the Civil Service Commission, the trade chief said.

The President signed the EODB law in May of last year. It pegs the transaction time for obtaining business permits, licenses and documents to three working days for simple procedures; seven working days for complex; and 20 working days for highly technical.