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ARTA to focus streamlining efforts on flagship projects

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THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it will prioritize the streamlining of the permits process for flagship infrastructure programs after President Rodrigo R. Duterte was given special powers to address red tape.

One particular area of focus is water systems, which have been experiencing permit and licensing delays, ARTA Director-General Jeremiah B. Belgica said in a radio interview Tuesday. This includes the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project, which has run into opposition for potential effects on the environment and indigenous communities.

Mr. Duterte in August released Administrative Order No. 32 to expedite the review and approval of infrastructure flagship projects dealing with water security.

Congress passed a bill that grants Mr. Duterte special powers to address red tape, allowing him to expedite government permit processing and waive requirements during a national emergency. The bill also gives the President the power to suspend or remove government officials that violate the measure.

Mr. Belgica in the interview supported authorizing the president to respond to red tape during emergencies, as ARTA’s powers are limited to making recommendations.

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Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri last month said that the Ease of Doing Business law was enough, adding that the government only needs to enforce it properly.

ARTA last month asked for expanded powers to investigate and penalize violators of the Ease of Doing Business law.

ARTA launched its National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies project for the logistics and housing sectors. The program intends to cut processing time by 52%. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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