THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) will lead a program to reduce process times for government approvals by more than half.

ARTA’s streamlining program, known as the National Effort for the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Inter-related Agencies (NEHEMIA), hopes to streamline application waiting times, documentary submissions, and fees for approvals sought by “sectors of economic and social significance” by 52% over 52 weeks.

The announcement of the OES as lead coordinating agency for NEHEMIA during its launch Wednesday indicates the availability of a direct line to the President to resolve any snags.

ARTA and the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat will serve as the program’s co-chairs.

Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will lead the development of digital infrastructure to automate government services.

Priority sectors in the first phase of the program have been identified as common towers and interconnectivity, housing, food and pharmaceuticals, logistics, and energy.

“Through the reforms that will be created by Program NEHEMIA, we will be aligned with the President’s directive to eliminate ‘overregulation’ in the government,” ARTA Director-General Jeremiah B. Belgica said.

NEHEMIA is authorized by the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services. RA 11032 itself amends RA 9485, the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

ARTA said additional authorization for the program was provided by Administrative Order 23, which seeks to eliminate overregulation and promote efficiency of government processes.

ARTA monitors and ensures the compliance of government agencies in eliminating overregulation. ARTA reviews compliance reports by agencies, and submits recommendations to the Office of the President.

ARTA said that it will also review proposals to integrate agencies, as government offices currently function independently. The current set-up, the authority said, creates redundant processes.

“The Program NEHEMIA shall break down the silo system and the lack of interconnection among government agencies,” Mr. Belgica said.

“Our government must be a singular unit serving the country, with the citizens being our primary client.” — Jenina P. Ibañez