President Arroyo on Wednesday ordered all government agencies to cut red tape in order to reduce the cost of doing business and encourage entrepreneurship.
Speaking at a conference of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel, the President said she signed Executive Order 428 that calls on all government agencies as well as state-owned corporations "to simplify rules and reduce reportorial requirements to facilitate doing business and encourage more investments in the country."
"Only then can we expect the entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial spirit to truly take hold and grow our economy and empower individuals to move up the social and economic ladder and improve their lives," the President said.
She said the present system discourages investment and business expansion.
Besides raising revenues through additional tax measures, Mrs. Arroyo has committed herself to introducing reforms to improve tax collection and invite more business and investments.
Hong Kong’s retired chief graft-buster, Tony Kwok, said on Tuesday that he has signed on to a 20-month European Union-funded project to reduce corruption in 16 Philippine government offices by cleaning up the procurement and public works contracts award systems.
The project also includes setting up a help desk for foreign investors and stopping corruption at Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s air cargo handling system.
Businessmen have complained that excessive red tape and government requirements cause delays, raise costs and encourage corruption.
Mrs. Arroyo also cited the need to encourage more entrepreneurs in the Philippines, saying "the new generation of entrepreneurs have the most potential but often suffer the most disillusionment about their future.
"In a free economy like ours, poverty is best alleviated by developing an environment conducive to the growth of business and entrepreneurship," the President said.
On Tuesday the President announced that the Bureau of Internal Revenue hit a record collection of P62.9 billion in April.
Leaders in the House of Representatives prodded the BIR into sustaining its collection efforts.
The Deputy Speaker for Mindanao, Gerry Salapuddin, and Rep. Exequiel Javier of Antique, vice chair of the Committee on Ways and Means, said that although the BIR is doing much better in recent months, it still falls behind its collection targets.
Javier said that if the BIR can perform better now, it should continue its intensified campaign against tax evasion.
"If the BIR can sustain its efforts and implement new taxes effectively, then our fiscal woes will be over sooner than expected. The BIR must remember that we aim to collect P80 billion from new taxes to ease our deficit problem and implement more development programs," Javier said.
AFP, Ma. Theresa Torres and Maricel Cruz