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The Philippines’ ARTA to Mandate Digital Signatures

The Philippines’ Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is proposing to make the use of digital signatures mandatory in national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs).

During the Ease of Doing Business Summit, ARTA urged NGAs and LGUs to subscribe to the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to generate e-signature. The DICT can also accredit digital signatures of private institutions.

As per ARTA, the Commission on Audit (COA) is already drafting a circular to recognise the use of digital signatures in all government transactions as well as the crafting of the guidelines on the use of digital signatures.

Aside from the mandatory use of digital signature, ARTA is pushing for a unified online payment system for all fees, contributions, and taxes across NGAs and LGUs. They are already in initial talks and discussions with the concerned agencies, and they are proposing that the Land Bank of the Philippines as one of the government banks to be the payment aggregator of all these payments.

Along with the implementation of e-payment, the agency said that they are currently ironing out the guidelines in the issuance of electronic copies of receipts by the NGAs and LGUs. The use of e-signature and e-payment in government transactions is part of the administration’s push to automate services and processes in public offices.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, the government said that integrating information and communications technology in government service is the best way to prepare for the digital demands of the new norm brought by the pandemic.

With a mandate to promote public trust and efficiency in the delivery of public services, ARTA is well positioned to deploy this initiative as part of its strategy. The adoption of digital signatures complements the ARTA’s Advisory Nos. 1 and 2, s. 2020, that urge all government entities to fast-track public transactions through alternative online procedures and the use of e-signatures for official documents.

The Ease of Doing Business and ARTA Council, the policy and advisory body of ARTA previously convened a video conference to discuss initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the virtual meet, the council discussed strategies towards the digitisation of government functions as the country transitions into the new normal as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis.

The council agreed that all government agencies should significantly increase the adoption of technology for efficient and timely delivery of government services. Such adoption of technology and deployment of online services will minimise the risk of further spreading of the virus as well as better serve citizens in general.

These efforts are in line with President Duterte’s directive to ease government-to-citizen transactions during the ongoing state of a public health emergency, and in compliance with the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for government agencies to minimise bottlenecks in the delivery of vital public services.

Previously, ARTA launched its flagship programme NEHEMIA or the National Effort for the Harmonisation of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies. Programme NEHEMIA is a sectoral-based streamlining effort that is directed towards speeding up and realisation of the Socio-Economic Agenda of the government. It targets to reduce the time, cost, requirements, and procedures in sectors of economic and social significance by 52% within 52weeks.

The programme NEHEMIA is in line with ARTA’s mandate to adopt a whole-of-government approach in the streamlining of government services. It is also aligned with the recently released Administrative Order 23: Eliminating Overregulation to Promote Efficiency of Government Processes signed by the President.

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