Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit www.mindanews.com for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press (www.atongpress.ning.com) for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

[NEWS] Davao City vows quicker renewal of business permits

(Busines, business, business for Mindanao! I hope the improvements in doing business in any Mindanao city will go down to the level of providing more employment opportunities for the poor and improve their purchasing power and participation in the social realm. I hope this brings better living conditions too!)

Davao City vows quicker renewal of business permits

DAVAO CITY (Courtesy of MindaNews/27 July) – Renewing business permits here will be much easier by January 2007 as permits will be processed even without clearances from the Social Security System (SSS), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and PhilHealth, Atty. Jhopee A. Agustin, bureau chief, told reporters Thursday.

But it could be to the detriment of employees, said officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) regional office in Davao City.

At present, Agustin said, applicants for renewal have to submit clearances for payment of taxes from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), remittances for Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth. They also have to go through local government offices such as the City Zoning Office, the City Treasurer's Office, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the Bureau of Fire Protection. Depending on the nature of business, some applicants have to go to the City Health, Tourism and Veterinary offices.

Agustin’s proposal is not to require clearance from regulatory agencies in the approval of business permit "since all of the regulatory offices are obligated to conduct yearly inspections."

"I recommend that the SSS, BIR, and PhilHealth clearances be no longer required and that only the barangay clearance be presented for new and renewal application as provided in the Local Government Code," Agustin wrote in a March 23 letter to Atty. Melchor Quitain, chief, Davao City legal office, asking for legal opinion.

She said they will approve the applications for business permit renewal even without the clearances, but these will be marked with "Submission of (SSS, BIR, PhilHealth) clearances to follow.”

The business bureau, Agustin said, will not be "strict" with the clearances once the proposal is approved. “But we would still coordinate with those offices,” she said.

Agustin said they learned the scheme from the City Government of Manila. "This will cut the delay in the approval of the business permit renewal," she said.

Christopher Silagan, marketing specialist of PhilHealth, said if the proposal is approved, it would be very difficult to track down delinquent-paying employers and this could put many employees at a disadvantage.

Silagan said among their biggest problems in ensuring coverage of employees are fraudulent employers who use deceptive payment schemes such as covering only 35% of their employees while collecting payment counterparts from all of them.

He said these employers also manipulate payrolls to show their alleged compliance.

Jonas Joseph Angala, another PhilHealth executive, told MindaNews the responsibility to pursue delinquent paying employers is theirs but admitted it is “very difficult” to pursue violators.

Angala said they seek help from the local governments through the clearing process in the renewal of business permits which is done every January. He said they understand the city government's discretion on the matter "but there must be a way to balance between business and the coverage of employees to public health insurance".

According to figures given by Silagan, employees of private firms account for 34% of the total of 663,780 individuals covered by PhilHealth in Southeastern Mindanao as of June 30. Individually paying members account for 38%, 11% government employees and around 2% are non-paying members, including senior citizens. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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