By Alexis Romero, May 30, 2023; The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines — President Marcos expressed optimism yesterday that the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) would further simplify government procedures through mandatory digitalization and contribute to efforts to lure investments and promote economic activity in the country.

In a speech read by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin during ARTA’s fifth anniversary celebration in Manila, Marcos said the agency has been “relentless” in implementing its mandate to curb red tape and bolster ease of doing business since it was established through Republic Act 11032 in 2018.

“In just five years, the men and women of ARTA have definitely proven that change in the way we serve in government is possible. It is possible to do things now to empower the improvement of processes and make transactions easier and more convenient for our clients, the Filipino people,” the President said.

“As the work is not finished, I look forward to even more accomplishments for ARTA in the years to come. I am confident that with your undiminished and steadfast dedication to serve the people and given your passion to advance the mandates of RA 11032, ARTA will be ready and equipped to lead over the hurdles the future holds,” he added.

Marcos also lauded ARTA for being a “disruptor of negative norms and practices in the bureaucracy.”

The President cited the agency’s streamlining of regulations and processes in the telecommunications sector, which he said paved the way for smoother operations and enhanced connectivity in the Philippines.

He said the number of required permits for the sector has been reduced from 13 to eight while that of the documentary requirements has been cut from 86 to 35. The turnaround time has also been cut drastically from 241 to 16 working days, he added.

“ARTA has effectively facilitated the rapid deployment of telecommunication infrastructure across the land,” Marcos said.

Marcos said through a joint memorandum circular, ARTA reduced the number of permits from 11 to five, simplified documentary requirements from 62 to 26 and slashed the turnaround time from 868 to 74 working days.

The reduced requirements have resulted in an increase in the number of permits to 36,264 in 2020-2021 from 9,363 permits in 2019-2020, the President said.

“These improvements in telecommunications have not gone unnoticed on the global stage. According to the Ookla speed test global index report released in March 2023, the Philippines has significantly improved its rankings. In mobile internet speed, our country climbed from 93rd to 79th place, while in fixed broadband, we went to 60th to 41st place,” Marcos said.

“This progress has enhanced communication infrastructure, facilitated economic growth and generally improved the lives of our citizens. It has hastened the digitalization of government services, thereby enabling the government to deliver timely and accessible services to the citizens in this rapidly evolving digital era,” he added.

Marcos also mentioned the implementation of the e-BOSS, which he said has slashed the time required for registering a business and has encouraged entrepreneurs to establish and grow their enterprises. He noted that out of the 17 local governments assessed, only seven have achieved full implementation of the e-BOSS. Five of the seven local governments that have fully implemented the e-BOSS “have witnessed a collective increase in business registration and revenue collection for the year 2022,” the Chief Executive said.

“The success of e-BOSS is a testament to the power of digital transformation in promoting ease of business and stimulating economic development,” Marcos said.

Marcos also cited ARTA’s partnership with the 888 citizens complaint center, a move that he said has provided a channel for citizens to voice their concerns and initiate complaints against agencies that fail to deliver efficient, timely and effective public services.

Marcos ended his speech by emphasizing the importance of digitalization in the bureaucracy.

“While we say that digitalization is no longer a mere option but already a mandatory requirement in the rendition of government services, we do not impose undue burdens on the shoulders of our fellow servants. As we shorten the lines, cut the steps and simplify the procedures, we assure everyone that doing so can only be the next best way to enable our stakeholders to reach their goals,” the President said.

In a video message, First Lady Liza Marcos thanked ARTA for its contributions in improving the delivery of government services.

“I was told that this year’s theme, SPEED, stands for streamlining the Philippines for effective and efficient digitalization… So SPEED is aligned with the President’s priorities in the delivery of government services,” Liza said.

“Thank you for all you do to make our country a better place to live in,” she added.