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Monday, February 26, 2024

Marcos steers country’s digital transformation

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To gear up the country’s digital transformation push, the Marcos administration vowed to push for the digitalization of key government agencies to streamline their services and initiatives.

“Consistent with this transformative policy direction, all government offices must then ensure that their vital services are digitized immediately,” President Marcos previously said during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year.

To fulfill his promises, Mr. Marcos signed various bills to hasten the country’s digital transformation as the Philippines revitalizes its economy post-COVID pandemic as well as to streamline institutional processes and reduce opportunities for corruption.

In the latest Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the Philippines ranked 115th out of 180 countries, one notch higher compared to the 116th place the country scored in 2022.

According to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, the recent result would serve as a hope and a challenge to the administration.

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“Earnest efforts are already being undertaken to implement the digital transformation mandate of the administration in order to streamline institutional processes and curtail opportunities for graft and corruption,” Bersamin said.

Marcos inks PPP Code, Internet Transactions Act, Ease of Paying Taxes Act

To further boost the country’s digitization efforts, President Marcos simultaneously signed Republic Act No. 11966, or the Public-Private Partnership Code of the Philippines (PPP Code) and R.A. No 11967 or the Internet Transactions Act (ITA) of 2023 in December.

The PPP Code draws from over three decades of experience in implementing the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, ensuring improved infrastructure projects and risk mitigation during implementation.

President Marcos shows the newly-signed Public-Private Partnership Code of the Philippines and the Internet Transactions Act of 2023 in December. Presidential Communications Office

Meanwhile, the ITA reflects the government’s commitment to safeguarding consumers and merchants while leveraging e-commerce for growth.

President Marcos also inked R.A No. 11976, known as the “Ease of Paying Taxes Act,” which aims to advance the administration’s 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda by enhancing revenue collection through digitization initiatives.

Identified as a legislative priority in the President’s 2022 and 2023 SONAs, the law modernizes tax administration, strengthens taxpayer rights, and expands the tax base while minimizing taxpayer burden, anticipating a long-term increase in revenue.

Key features include classifying taxpayers by size, electronic or manual filing of returns, and eliminating distinctions in the sales of goods and services. Additionally, it streamlines processes, reduces requirements, and digitalizes BIR services.

Embrace digitalization, technology

President Marcos also directed the country’s justice sector to embrace digitalization and innovative practices to decongest jails and prison facilities nationwide.

“By embracing technology and innovative practices, we can enhance our efficiency, reduce delays, and ensure swift and fair legal proceedings,” he said.

He urged members of the Justice Sector Coordination Council to discuss innovative ways to improve their policies and initiatives.

President Marcos also issued an executive order to streamline the permit processing for the construction of telecommunications and internet infrastructure in the Philippines.

Under Executive Order No. 32, all cities and municipalities are required to establish a one-stop shop for construction permits, simplifying the application process for building permits and related certificates.

The EO stressed that no additional national or local permits or clearances are needed for the construction, installation, repair, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

The President likewise highlighted the urgency to simplify the investment process in the country.

EO No. 18 established Green Lanes in government offices to expedite investment processes and directed the Board of Investments to create a One-Stop-Action-Center for Strategic Investments, serving as a single entry point for qualified projects.

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