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Philippines Department of Finance establishing online payment gateway for government transactions

The Department of Finance (DOF) in the Philippines is establishing an online-based payment gateway to enable taxpayers and other state clients to remit fees and other charges electronically to government agencies.

This is in line with the Philippine Government’s efforts to cut red tape and improve the ease of doing business in the country.

The PHPay system is designed to be a secure and reliable collection system in which government clients can transfer payments online for government services, anytime and anywhere, minimising the need for human contact and eliminating long queues in state offices.

Even after PHPay is in place, taxpayers and other government clients, can still opt to use other payment methods.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran updated officials from the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Competitiveness Council; along with Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista of this DOF initiative during a recent meeting to discuss the measures being done to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Reducing procedures and processing time

Complementing this DOF effort, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has minimised the processing time and procedures for paying taxes, registering properties and starting business. They have reduced the number of steps for registering a new business from six days to one day.

For tax payment, the BIR has cut the number of procedures from twenty to only seven steps, while for simple transactions in registering properties, the processing period has been brought down from 15 to six days.

Besides these measures, Beltran said to ease trading across borders, the simple export and import processes of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will be done online.

He said the BOC will tap Tradenet.gov.ph, a fully-owned Philippine government digital platform, which will automate the licensing, permit, clearance, and certification systems for regulatory agencies.

Launched last December, the TradeNet platform will also serve as the Philippines’ link to the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) gateway and is expected to minimize the costs of doing business and cut the processing time for the issuance of import and export permits.

The ASW gateway is a regional initiative that aims to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among the organisation’s 10 member-states. It integrates the National Single Windows (NSW) of member states and provides the secure IT architecture and legal framework that will allow trade, transport, and commercial data to be exchanged electronically among government agencies or the trading community.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are already using the ASW to exchange information on customs clearances.

Undersecretary Beltran said TradeNet.gov.ph will allow traders to initially use the system to apply for import and export permits for rice, sugar, used motor vehicles, chemicals (toluene), frozen meat medicines (for humans, animals or fish) and cured tobacco.

Multiple ongoing initiatives to improve ease of doing business

Besides TradeNet, the DOF implemented several innovations in 2017 anchored on the use of digital technology to improve the ease of doing business and electronically interconnect with other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help speed up the region’s economic integration.

These innovations include the establishment of the Philippine Business Data Bank (PBDB); the ongoing computerisation program at the Department and the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC); and the continuing efforts to reduce the procedures and requirements in securing government documents or applications.

PBDB, currently being piloted in Quezon City, will eventually allow the online processing of business permits, down to the local government level. It targets to cover all 1,634 local government units nationwide within a two-year period.

“Economic zone data will likewise be progressively be made available covering all economic zones in the country,” said Undersecretary Beltran.

The precursor to the PBDB—the Online Unified Business Permit Application Form—is being fine-tuned to further simplify the process and allow businesses to apply for LGU (local government unit) business permits regardless of location.

DOF and other involved agencies are now finalising the data elements for the online business permit application form. 

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