Local business permits to be released in just 1-2 days

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Local governments will now be required to release business permits and licenses in just one to two days.

The Trade, Local Government and Technology departments have signed an agreement to cut down the business permit and licensing system of all cities and municipalities.

"It takes people weeks and months to start a business. We don't want to make it difficult for people. Their business is not in lining up. Their business is in doing their business," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Related: Davao boasts of 3-day business permit processing

Under the current system, entrepreneurs have to submit their requirements to the city government, but also get a separate clearance from the barangay (village) and a safety certificate from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

"That is so many windows, so many signatures — and that's just for the mayor's permit," National Competitiveness Council Co-Chair Guillermo Luz said.

Related: Government agencies urged to speed up processing of business permits

The new system will only require the entrepreneur to approach the city hall. The city government will handle all the necessary clearances and payments with the barangay and the BFP.

This should cut down the processing time of business permits and licenses to just 1-2 days, from today's average period of 5-10 days.

The cost of the permits and licenses will remain the same.

Lopez said business registration could be completed in just three steps: "You just file the documents, pay the fees, and collect your permit or license."

The circular will be effective immediately, but local government units (LGU) will still have to be trained to handle the new system. Entrepreneurs should see the difference in the next 30 days, Lopez said.

Related: Gov't, private sector improve business processes

After streamlining, automation will be the next step to slash red tape in the government.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is already building a software program the recording, assessment and issuance of business permits and licenses.

"The DICT is already piloting the software application in Tanay, Rizal. In the next few months, we will make it available to help automate the processes of other LGUs," Technology Undersecretary Jorge Sarmiento said.

Luz added that some LGUs were already automating processes on their own, designing their own applications that stand alone from each other.

He said, "We want a central platform from DICT, and all LGUs can roll out their platforms from there. That will be faster and also more standardized."

Geneveve Pietro, an entrepreneur from Makati City, welcomed the news.

It has already taken her six months and counting to open a dialysis center. It is costing her business not just money, but also time and effort, to line up all day at various government offices.

"Kung online na lahat, 'yung pagod mo, 'yung oras mo, 'yung expenses, lahat 'yun, mawawala 'yun lahat. Kung baga, isang click mo nalang, kahit nasa office ka nalang magagawa mo na, hindi mo na kailangan pumunta dito [sa city hall]," Pietro said.

[Translation: If everything was online, your hardship, your time, your expenses, all of that would be gone. In just one click, you can accomplish your forms, even if you stayed in the office. You wouldn't even need to go to the city hall.]

According to the World Bank, the Philippines ranks 103rd out of 189 countries in terms of the ease of doing business. It ranks an even lower 165th in the category of starting a business.