By Cai Ordinario, October 10 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

HIDDEN costs and under-the-table payments are the root causes of the dissatisfaction of businesses when availing of government frontline services in the Philippines, according to a study conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

In an impact evaluation of the implementation of the Republic Act 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act (Arta) of 2007, Neda found that these costs include extra requirements and payments that are not specified in the Citizen’s Charter.

Neda said clients are more satisfied when agencies innovate in their delivery mechanisms, such as using automated queuing systems or ensuring adequate staff serving during high traffic hours.

“In making service delivery standards for frontline service, agencies must be helpful, agile, evidence-based, reliable and transparent. By doing frontline services right, we help people and businesses succeed,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

Neda said the study also recommended making Arta the standard for ideal service to individuals and businesses.

This can be done by encouraging government agencies to create their own agency-level initiatives and strategies and investing in innovation that can improve services and minimize corruption.

Neda said the strategic framework must also be developed to ensure that the higher-level outcomes of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, which amends the Arta, are articulated with these efforts.

“Citizens and businesses appreciate it when frontline service providers care about providing what their clients came for as fast as they can, and by all ways and means,” Pernia said.

The EODB law seeks to promote ease of doing business in the country by cutting red tape in government agencies that delay the delivery of responsive services.

The law addresses priority No. 3 of the zero-10 point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte administration and Chapter 5 of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which aims to speed up processing time, simplify procedures and
make government transactions hassle-free in order to improve competitiveness in the country.

For its part, the Arta has pledged to work closely with Neda and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through an action plan, which will enlist agencies’ commitments to ensure that the recommendations are adopted.

Through the 2018 Strategic Monitoring and Evaluation Fund being managed by Neda-
Monitoring and Evaluation Staff and the UNDP, the Neda-Governance Staff commissioned a study to evaluate the implementation of Arta.

The results of the study will serve as inputs to the long-term strategic plan of the Arta and implementation of the EODB law. Once completed, the full report is set to be launched during the Monitoring and Evaluation Forum in November 2019.