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The Philippines boosts automation of public services

During the virtual signing ceremony of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 01-2021, the Philippine Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) reminded local government units (LGUs) that they should have automated their business one-stop-shop (BOSS) before June 17 of this year.

The JMC establishes the guidelines for processing business permits, related clearances, and licenses in all cities and municipalities. This year, the country is hoping to have 500 LGUs to be automated by the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System (IBPLS) software.

The DICT project manager for IBPLS said the department has signed a memorandum of agreements with 446 LGUs, of which more than 200 are already in the operational stage of the system. The agency is making sure that everyone is onboard for IBPLS, which is an online system.

Meanwhile, the DICT also said that the IBPLS software works well even with smaller LGUs. The agency urged highly urbanised cities to fast-track the adoption of the integrated system so their BOSS can go online before the June 17 deadline.

Under the newly signed JMC, the E-BOSS should have the following functions:

  • Accepting electronic submission of application.
  • Electronic issuance of tax bill or order of payment.
  • Accepting online payment, releasing of an electronic version of permits, licenses, and clearances; and
  • Providing gateway facility linked to courier service where applicant prefers hard copy of the documents.

The JMC also limits the documentary requirements and will implement a unified application form with a unique identification number.

The ARTA reminded LGUs that they should not require notarisation of the requirements, adding that barangay clearances related to business permit applications shall be integrated and processed by the Business Processing and Licensing Office (BPLO). The agency added that the number of signatories in the documents shall be limited to three and that LGUs should also process the application within three working days.

Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, The Full Digital Transformation Act of 2020 mandates all government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), instrumentalities and Local Government Units (LGUs) to adopt a digital plan that aligns with the Philippine Digital Transformation Strategy 2022.

The law of full digitalisation of government services promotes a zero-contact policy and facilitates ease of procedures. All of this is meant to streamline government services following Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, Republic Act No. 11234, the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop Act, and other applicable laws.

Also, lawmakers in the country spoke about the e-Gov Master Pan and the related e-Gov and Integrated Government Philippines (iGovPhil) programmes that have been launched by the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Office. However, lawmakers believed that the Philippines has been slow in integrating digital technology to improve the delivery of services and experience a sense of modernisation in the country.

With COVID-19, digital transformation in the government has taken on a sense of urgency. Contract tracing and distribution of aid could be smoother if data is harmonised, and digital systems are put in place more comprehensively. The proposed law plans to harmonise the collected personal data of Filipino citizens, businesses, land, and transactions, among others. Further, it will open opportunities that will likely drive the government to invest in developing additional organisational capability and staff competencies.

With all these plans taking on urgency in the light of the pandemic, the government predicts it will be expedient to build a Digital Transformation Department to manage the ambitious and yet highly practical investment. The department would be expected to support and roll out the office’s digital transformation strategy.

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