Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Launching of Green Lanes for Strategic Investments
Thank you Department Secretary of the Trade and Industry Department, Secretary Fred Pascual. [Please take your seats.]
The Ambassador of Singapore to the Philippines, Her Excellency Constance See Sin Yuan; the Interior and Local Government Secretary, Secretary Benhur Abalos; the Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs, he must be one of the busiest people in government right now, Frederick Go; the Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Ernesto Perez, who is vying for the most busy person in the government also; our partners from the private sector; fellow workers in government; ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is with great pleasure to join you all here for the launching of the Green Lanes for Strategic Investments.
This [marks] a significant milestone in our country’s journey towards economic prosperity, as we strive to make the Philippines a top investment destination.
Executive Order No. 18 signifies the unwavering commitment of this government to simplify procedures and trim bureaucratic layers to ensure the ease of doing business in our country.
We gave this a particular priority because upon listening to our prospective investors, this was one of the areas where they felt we could do better and would improve the investment climate in the Philippines and that is why we have now undertaken this measure under EO 18.
Because this will not only strengthen market competition and reduce barriers to investment, but will also serve as a beacon of progress for businesses and for every Filipino, guiding us towards a future of growth, opportunity, and success.
The executive order complements the landmark economic reforms made by Congress, including the amendments to laws such as the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Law to further promote our country as a top investment destination.
Furthermore, we live in a global economy and therefore we follow the principle that we compete vigorously but cooperate whenever possible. But to compete vigorously with the nations in Southeast Asia, in ASEAN, in Asia, and for that matter, for the rest of the world, we also have to compete in terms of the ease of doing business.
The example that I constantly give is that some of the permits that are required for certain elements, although ARTA has already reduced the days from a significant number – as a significant number. We look to places like Thailand. We look to places like Vietnam who are our direct competitors, South Korea, Indonesia.
The requirements for investors to come in completely put our systems in the shade. Whereas some permits take – well I’m sure you will recognize the – when I describe them, there are some permits that take 36 months to complete. Whereas you go to Thailand, you go to Indonesia, you go to Vietnam, they take two weeks to complete.
The establishment of a foreign firm in our place, we have reduced it now from 80 days to 20 plus days. Still, we have ways to go. You go to the countries that I have mentioned, it takes three days. And this is why we must do this. This is why if we are to compete on an even basis, which is required because we cannot continue to hide behind protectionist laws and protectionist policies. Because no country ever got wealthy by following a protectionist policy.
The wealth of a nation is defined by the amount of trade that it has gone. We can look back many centuries and it has always been trade that has been the key to the wealth of any nation, of any system, of any economic system.
So, we recognize the efforts of everyone who have helped us craft the Order, this Executive Order.
We acknowledge, of course, the members of Congress for being supportive of the Administration’s agenda to foster a conducive business environment and for ensuring that all of our policies are aligned towards the seamless realization of strategic investments.
It is a continuing application of the principle of whole-of-government response to the continuing challenge of dismantling the obstacles faced by investors whenever they decide to do business here in our country.
It is, indeed, long overdue to have reforms that will not only attract more investments into the country, but will also create an environment conducive to business growth and development.
So today, we take a huge leap forward, ushering [in] a new era of efficiency and collaboration within and without government.
We envision a future where the Philippines becomes an attractive and competitive hub for business ventures, where enterprises flourish and thrive, and where opportunities await every investor for every Filipino.
We aim to achieve this through various measures that include government agencies establishing the Green Lane services for the permitting and the licensing of Strategic Investments.
We will create a Single Point of Entry with the creation of Board of Investments’ One-Stop Action Center, which shall serve as the only entry of all projects qualified as Strategic Investments.
Now, this can be seen. It has been said that this might prove to be a bottleneck. But that is not the idea behind this. The idea behind this is to give our investors, take the load, the bureaucratic load off the potential investors and put that load onto our green lane practitioners.
And what do I mean by that? What I mean by that is that instead of a potential investor having to do all the legwork to find the documentary requirements, go to this office – and we have heard all the stories, where you go to one office, and they say, “Well, you know, we can only sign three of these documents. You’re required 28.” So, you have to go now to another office. So, you will go to the other office and they’ll say, “that’s just fine but we can only do so much, you have to go to another…” And this goes on and on and on.
And to the point that some investors give up and say this is not worth the trouble, there’s too much cost involved, the ROI on this, the cost-benefit analysis on this has become untenable.
And so when we say that there will be one avenue, one lane, one green lane, is that we establish a system whereby our potential investors will go to the DTI, will go to ARTA, will go to wherever the appropriate department is, that department will then take on that load and say whenever you have – we will be the ones to call our counterparts in the other departments. We will go there, get the documentary requirements, get the signatures that are needed. And anytime that you have a problem, you come to one person, you have one person, one agency, that you will talk to. And we will take care of it from our end.
Because when it is not – it’s often not clear how the system works. Even for us Filipinos, sometimes we feel that the rules are so complex that it is very hard to comply. You try very hard but again at every instance, at every turn, there is always a problem. They will say, “Well, you forgot to bring this, you forgot to bring that document, you forgot to get the clearance.”
And the foreign investors says, “We did not know that that was necessary.” So we know, we in the government know what is necessary. So let us take that load off the investor. Let us take that load off the business sector and take it on because that is the role of government is to handle all these bureaucratic procedures, not so that we delay and we open opportunities for corruption, for wastage.
Instead, we are doing now the opposite where we are streamlining all of these. And that for a serious investor to come in, they will talk to one department, that department, they assign a single person who will be their – shall we say, be their handler in terms of getting all the necessary requirements, legal, documentary, bureaucratic, whatever it is so that the investor knows where they stand and what else they need to do.
So, that is a general idea behind these green lanes and that I think is a big step towards our fostering this idea of making the ease of doing business something that becomes more attractive to potential investors.
So, it is good that we are launching the e-Invest, which is an online platform for investors to submit applications to operate in the country, where they can also be granted a Provisionary Permit to Operate while waiting for their applications to be processed and approved.
Moreover, we will facilitate the simultaneous processing of applications of national government agencies and local government units for permits and for licenses.
We will enable electronic submission of applications for and the issuance of clearances, permits, payments, certifications, amongst other documentary requirements. We understand that time is of the essence for our investors and our entrepreneurs. Thus, a streamlined bureaucracy will ensure that our processes are efficient, transparent, and responsive to the needs of these potential investors.
We will not stop there though.
The entire government is committed to realize the vision of “Making-It-Happen” in the Philippines. The Board of Investments has already partnered with 36 agencies on putting on the fast-track approvals of permits and the resolution of concerns, particularly for identified strategic investments.
We will continue to closely monitor the performance of these processes in order to track our progress and [identify] – and we will see the areas for continuous improvement, even as we continue to pursue other projects and endeavors that will make the Philippines an even more fertile ground for investments.
I am confident that the Green Lanes will pave the way for the realization of many pledges that we have had—including those that I have personally received whilst abroad—ensuring that they will bear fruit for our people and our nation.
So, join me now as we welcome this new endeavor and the new investments that will come and to realize the full potential of our country to build a strong, dynamic, and resilient economy for every Filipino.
Thank you very much. Mabuhay po tayong lahat at magandang umaga po sa inyo! [applause]
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SOURCE: PCO-PND (Presidential News Desk)