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Philippines Department of Finance establishing online payment gateway for government transactions

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.