THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it is hoping for a climb of nearly 50 places for the Philippines in the 2021 World Bank Ease of Doing Business report, to a rank of 47th.

The Philippines rose to 95th in the 2020 report released this year, from 124th place a year earlier, among 190 economies. The Philippines improved its overall score to 62.8 points from 60.9 points.

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah B. Belgica at a forum on Wednesday said that the authority will be focusing on streamlining program called Project NEHEMIA (National Effort on the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies), to reduce 52% of costs, requirements, and processing times in 52 weeks for identified sectors.

“The program NEHEMIA targets the five identified sectors of society which (have) the highest and most profound impact in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of our president,” he said, identifying power, telecommunications, food and pharmaceuticals, logistics, and housing.

He said the estimated cost of red tape in the housing industry was more than P140 billion, according to a 2017 study.

The costs come from duplicated requirements, including fees and applications.

Meanwhile, ARTA is also urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to deputize local government units (LGU) to inspect micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises such as bakeries to reduce inspection backlogs.

“Local government is already inspecting them for sanitary purposes… Give a list of what you want to ask (the businesses) and deputize the local government,” Mr. Belgica said in English and Filipino during a news conference at the forum.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that the FDA inspections are sanitary and location-based requirements.

“These (businesses) are already being attended to and inspected by the LGUs. It’s an example of redundancy. (FDA will) offload maybe 90% (of its workload) considering the number of enterprises, SMEs in the country,” he said in English and Filipino.

LGUs are also subjected to the maximum processing times imposed by law: three working days for simple transactions, seven working days for complex transactions, and 20 working days for highly technical applications.

“We are also asking the local government units to reconsider some of their requirements,” Mr. Belgica said, including locational clearance requirements for shops that are already inside the malls.

He said ARTA will release a memorandum on the practice, for implementation in January. — Jenina P. Ibañez