“It used to take us three to five days to get a business permit and there were no clear systems or steps,” shared Arsenia Seydandiego, who runs a pension house in Puerto Princesa City in Southern Luzon.
Seydandiego is one of more than 130 travel-related micro and small entrepreneurs in Puerto Princesa City. Every year in the month of January, business owners all over the country flock city halls to apply for business permits.
“The renewal process was much easier this year. I hope that the city will keep improving its processes,” said Seydandiego.
Fatima Lyn Catingub, who operates a photo services and studio business, shared a similar feedback. “I was able to get my permit in less than a day. Everything is more organized and systematic.”
About 7,470 business permits were issued during the business registration period in January, an increase to last year’s 6,794, generating more than Php116 million worth of revenue for the Puerto Princesa City Government.
The faster business registration was made possible through the collaboration of the Puerto Princesa City Government with USAID’s SURGE Project. The project re-designed the city’s business registration procedures to reduce the processing time and number of steps.
Puerto Princesa’s improved business permits and licensing system supports the goal of the national government to make more efficient the delivery of government services and eliminate corruption. In August 2016, the Departments of Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government, and the Information and Communication Technology signed a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) to further streamline the business permits and licensing system in the country.
USAID has been supporting the streamlining of the business registration process of its Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities since 2012. Zamboanga City in Western Mindanao also reaped the benefits of streamlining its business registration with the help of SURGE. More than 10,000 business permits were issued during the 29-day operation of its newly-established Business One-Stop-Shop (BOSS) in January this year—a 400 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. The City Government credits this increase to the efficient BOSS and streamlining of the previous 18 steps for new businesses and 20 steps for renewal to just two steps each.
In Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Central Visayas, business owners received their permits in three hours, compared to waiting for a week during the previous year, after the City Government with assistance from SURGE cut the number of steps from 14 to three and launched its online business permit application form. This resulted in processing more than 4,000 business permits in the first month of 2017 alone, nearly reaching the total number of permits issued for the entire year of 2016.
By improving ease of doing business that benefits business owners and local governments, USAID contributes to promoting a business-friendly environment and investment climate that can boost the competitiveness of second-tier cities.