National government plans to collect P40 billion in “fees and charges” for permits and licenses next year, prompting Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto to call for the publication of an online “Feesbook”, detailing the cost and time needed to get the documents.
Recto said a “Feesbook” should explain “how much and how long” it would take a citizen to secure permits and licenses.
A “Feesbook”, he added, could also combat red tape, which, according to a World Bank report issued last October, costs the country P140 billion in opportunity losses annually.
While some agencies have posted the cost of documents they issue on their websites, Recto noted that there is still “no unified sourcebook” as to the schedule of fees agencies are charging for their services.
“The measure of a transparent government is the ease by which citizens get services from the government, especially documents that must be paid for,” he said.
According to Recto, the “Feesbook” must contain the name of the employees and the location of offices from where the desired document will be applied for, processed and paid.
“It could be a portal for online ‘shopping’ of documents, a virtual tour of the offices where it can be secured, and with a Google map on how to get there if physical appearance is required in applying for a document,” he said.
“But if all of these can be transacted online, without compromising the authenticity of both the applicant and the permit applied for, then all the better,” Recto said.
The senator reiterated his call for a “Feesbook” as national government income from fees and charges is expected to reach P40 billion this year, up from the P36.4 billion goal this year.
He described the P40 billion a “conservative minimum” as it only includes fees and charges considered as non-tax revenues and does not count payments for licenses classified as taxes, such as car registration fees.
The latter, officially called Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC), will bring in P14.5 billion to the government coffers next year.
Total non-tax revenue collection target for 2016 is P151.5 billion, which is P6.1 billion bigger than this year’s.
Among big non-tax revenue earners are the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with a collection quota of P4.6 billion for passport services; the Bureau of Immigration, P4.3 billion; Land Registration Authority (LRA), P6.3 billion; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) P497 million; and the National Bureau of Investigation(NBI), P596 million.
Also not included in the count, Recto explained, are fees local governments charge for licenses and permits, and those collected by government corporations, like Manila International Airport Authority’s terminal fee for departing passengers.
While 2016 budget documents Malacañang had sent to Congress did not indicate any increase in the cost of documents, Recto said any increase in fees and charges would only be “palatable to the public if it cuts red tape.”
But whatever the rates are, “the result should be faster release of documents and less paper work,” Recto said. “An official receipt is a warranty of fast service, not just proof of payment.”
“If a pizza maker gives your next order free when it misses its 30-minute delivery promise on cut-throat prices, there’s no reason why government can’t guarantee speedy delivery of service on higher rates,” Recto said.
The Philippines ranked a low 95th among 189 economies in overall ease of doing business according to the World Bank’s (WB) Doing Business Report for 2015.
It ranked 161st as to expenses in starting a business,” one of the costliest in the world,” the WB said in another report – the October 2015 Philippine Economic Update.
“The average firm spends 34 days securing licenses required to start a business,” the report said.
“The process for individuals seeking government licenses, permits, or clearances for employment purposes is also cumbersome,” the report added.
It noted “workers spend anywhere from a few hours to several days travelling in securing police, NBI clearances, registering vehicles and driver’s licenses.”