This is what the business sector has been waiting for.
Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said this to describe the recent move of three government agencies to reduce the time it takes to set up business and secure permits.
“This development will greatly benefit the rapid growth of our economy and help hasten the creation of more jobs and opportunities for businesses to prosper,” she said in a text message.
Ng was referring to a joint circular signed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Tuesday directing local government units to streamline business permits and licensing systems.
In an Inquirer report, the circular sought to cut processing time from two days for new business registration and one day for renewals. At present, the registration process takes about five days.
LGUs were also directed to use a unified form, both in print and electronic formats, with only two signatories — mayor and treasurer or BPL head with alternate approving signatories — needed for business permits.
The circular also recommended that LGUs automate and computerize business transactions to improve frontline services further.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted in the report as saying, “Streamlining is one of the (economic reforms) under President Duterte’s 10-point economic agenda. We are hopeful of cooperation from all mayors.”
He added that part of the circular is the integration of barangay clearances at the municipal and city levels to ease the burden faced by entrepreneurs.
DICT Undersecretary Jorge Sarmiento also said the agency will be coming up with software to automate local government process in the next few months.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said that this circular would help attract more investors to the country, especially in Mindanao.
For his part, Philip Tan, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) past president, said he welcomed the move but he was more concerned about how many of those who set up new businesses would really survive.
“While we encourage them to open business, what is the rate of survivability to the next level? (To survive means) they continue to operate, pay taxes, and employ people,” he said in a phone interview.
Based on his personal experience in 28 years of business, less than five percent of emerging enterprises survive during a 10-year run.
He attributed this to a lack of technical knowledge on business as well as of passion for entrepreneurship.
Around 99.7 percent of businesses in the whole country is micro, small, and medium in scale.
“They should really identify the true entrepreneurs, the groomed ones, as they say. Most of those who enter into business are just testing the waters,” said Tan.
DTI Cebu provincial director Maria Elena Arbon, however, said that the death of a business, just like growth, is part of the competitive aspect of entrepreneurship.
“Anywhere we go, it’s there,” she said as she cited the DTI’s projects like the DTI Negosyo Center as those that would help small businesses to grow.
The Negosyo Center enables business owners to register their business name in less than 15 minutes, but the business permits are released by their respective mayor’s office.
Following the kickoff of Launchpad, a mentorship program for tech-based startups, the DTI is set to roll out a pilot test of a mentorship program for more traditional MSMEs called Kapatid Program in partnership with the Go Negosyo Center.
Arbon said 20 MSMEs from Cebu that wish to grow will be chosen to undergo a 12-week mentorship program with mentors from Go Negosyo as well as local chamber groups.
She said the launching in Cebu, which was chosen as one of the few pilot areas of the project, would be on Sept. 16.