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The initiative by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to cut red tape has been welcomed by the business community in Cebu and in Davao.

“This is the first positive impression I have had on government," said Hans Hauri, General Manager of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. He attended the Cebu leg of the DOLE-DOT-ADB Results Impact Assessment Seminar at the Radisson Blu Hotel early this week.

The ADB, an international financial institution has provided technical assistance through its learning sessions on the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) whichaims to cut red tape in government transactions.

“We are glad that the private sector is part of the agenda in this initiative. We play an active part in shaping what is good for the private sector in order to keep the balance. Until today, there has been a lack of sincere protection to defend the investments of the business community,” said Hauri.

Hauri was one of the several employer, worker and government discussants during the learning sessions.

The DOLE and DOT, facilitated the RIA seminars, through its regional offices and the DOLE policy research and advocacy arm, the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS). Learning sessions with tripartite partners and stakeholders in Davao were held on July 30 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel; and on July 31 in Cebu.

Red Tape, Not Fun in the Philippines

“Regulatory policies and rules are fundamental to a well functioning economy but can be detrimental if lacking in assessment of its applicability, enforceability, and equivalent costs in doing business, and that includes bureaucratic ‘red tape’,” said Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz of the DOLE.

Unnecessary and poorly designed regulations have significant costs on business, labor and government through inefficiencies due to the time taken to understand, comply with and enforce these regulations.

“Through this convergence exercise we hope to better understand implications on how our regulations can better target the ‘issues’ and meet the regulatory objectives through rigorous options analysis, impact assessment, and stakeholder consultation,” added Dimapilis-Baldoz.

This results to lower efficiency and profits for business, higher prices for consumers, and greater administration costs for government.

“Together with our tripartite partners and stakeholders, we may be able to come up with options for optimum results. Consultation with business, labor, other government agencies and the community is part of the process that will help us achieve greater impact for all of our stakeholders. The DOLE provides an environment for more inclusive tripartism and social dialogue to make representation of interests of sectors more broad-based and highly participatory,” said Baldoz.

Where do workers stand?

While generally optimistic yet critical, trade union representatives asked how workers would fit into the RIA process.

“How can RIA provide a lens for our workers? What is the role of workers in the RIA process?” said Joel Virador, President of the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Davao, during the leg of the RIA seminar held in Davao City.

“The RIA system makes the objectives of regulations transparent, encourages the interests of the stakeholder. It is a tool for workers to comment and participate in regulation making processes through public consultations," said Executive Director Cynthia Cruz of the ILS.

The RIA aims to facilitate a disciplined and structured approach to regulation as it improves the quality of the same.

“We need to do more RIAs to ensure that regulatory policies will facilitate and not impede business. We need to help business keep jobs and make more jobs,” said Cruz.

Other worker representatives lauded the inter-agency initiative on RIA, but noted that the tool should be used to speed up processes relating to workers, among them cases filed in the NLRC.

“The RIA should facilitate speedy labor justice. All cases brought to the National Labor Relations Commission for arbitration and mediation should be resolved or settled at once so as not to waste the time of both employers and workers,” said Enrique S. Vega, Visayas Coordinator of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

Red-Tape Burden in Business

The Philippines has established a National Competitiveness Council (NCC) which is tasked with developing strategies for improving the competitiveness of the Philippine economy. Among the components of the NCC’s task is reducing the ‘red tape’ burden associated with regulation as it adds to individual and business compliance costs, and adds to government enforcement costs.

Currently, the Philippines is ranked 136 out of 183 countries in ‘ease’ of doing business (2012 World Bank Global Survey).

The seminar series is part of a technical assistance program under the PHI Strengthening Institutions for an Improved Investment Climate with the Philippine Government, where the ADB is assisting the implementation of a RIA regime across Departments.

The DOLE, DOT and Department of Finance (DOF) are piloting the institutionalization of RIA.

(For more information on this press release please contact Ms. LINARTES M. VILORIA, Chief Labor & Employment Officer, Advocacy & Publications Division, Institute for Labor Studies, Telephone Nos.: 5273490 / 5273447)

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