Applying payment digitization to government

ON May 12, 2022, the Office of the President issued Executive Order 170, Series of 2022, which requires all government agencies to adopt digital payment systems for government disbursements and collections.

This means that all government agencies, local government units and other government institutions are required to use safe and efficient digital disbursement for the payment of goods, services and other disbursements, including in the distribution of financial aid, as well as in the payment of salaries. , salaries, allowances and other compensation to employees. They are also required to use secure payment processing solutions to ensure that the various digital payment methods are accepted.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) sees this latest release as another win in the nation’s fight against bureaucracy. This order leaves government agencies no excuse not to establish digital payment systems for the transacting public.

The OE cited Section 2 of Republic Act 11032, or the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services Act of 2018,” saying that accepting digital payments in collections will promote the efficient delivery of government services, speed up transactions, increase revenue, and reduce the risk of corruption.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has repeatedly expressed his desire to implement e-governance in the Philippines, most recently in his sixth and final State of the Nation (SONA) address in 2021. Since the start of his term, President Duterte has directed government agencies to simplify their processes and make it more convenient for the public to do business with the government from the comfort of their homes.

The challenge for the proper implementation of EO lies in the efficiency and effectiveness of its implementation. As they say, a law or policy is only as good as it is enforced. Despite numerous policies and regulations requiring automation and use of digital platforms, agencies still struggle, intentionally or unintentionally, to implement such technological reforms. ARTA remains ready and willing to assist the Technical Working Group (TWG) in monitoring compliance with the EO based on our terms of reference as set out in RA 11032. However, the TWG may consider a means effective way to implement reform such as digitization in government through the carrot and stick method, or providing incentives to compliant agencies and tougher penalties against non-compliant agencies.

ARTA advocates for the inclusion of digital payments in the criteria for the distribution of the performance-based bonus, which has always been one of the most effective incentives in government. Thanks to this incentive, we were able to enforce compliance with the submission of the Citizen’s Charter in government agencies and LGUs. The use of digital payments can also be considered as a criterion for awarding the Local Good Governance Label and for evaluating the competitiveness index of cities and municipalities. For our part, we will certainly include it in our scoring guidelines in our Report Card Survey (RCS).

On the other hand, there should also be an agency responsible for breaking the whip, if necessary, on non-compliant government agencies. Government agencies that will not use digital payments may face charges of violating Republic Act 6713, or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,” and RA 3019. , or the “Anti-Corruption and Anti-Corruption Practices Act”. In this regard, the cooperation of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Public Service Commission will be essential for its immediate implementation. In addition, the Audit Commission may also consider taking an active role in auditing the Compliance Service Standard for Government Agencies, the details of which can be completed.

ARTA has consistently promoted the use of digital payments in government through the publication of several issues since 2020. Among these is the circular ARTA Memorandum 2020-06, series of 2020 which indicates the guidelines on issuance and/or reinstatement of permits and licenses under the “new normal”. These guidelines stated that digital payments for licenses, permits and other fees could be used. The Authority has also issued ARTA Memorandum Circular 2021-01 Series of 2021 or the Whole of Government Reengineering Handbook publication, which requires government agencies to submit their reengineering reports for streamlining and automating government services.

The Authority has also published the Philippine Good Regulatory Principles (PGRP), a set of guidelines and core principles on how to promote proportionate, consistent, accountable and targeted regulation through effective dialogue between regulators and regulated entities. , the first of its kind in the country. . Among the 10 principles is continuous evaluation, which means that regulators should subject regulations to regular review and evaluation to ensure their continued relevance, efficiency and effectiveness and to keep pace with change. evolution of emerging technologies.

We have also published the Whole of Government Reengineering (WOG) Handbook and the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) Handbook which both focus on streamlining, reengineering and digitizing processes.

In an effort to make LGU services more convenient for the public, RA 11032 mandated the establishment of Business One-Stop Shops (BOSS) and Electronic BOSS (EBOSS) which should be able to accept online payments at the using online payment methods and other means of payment. gateways or other digital payment options.

ARTA has also supported digitization efforts initiated by Congress. The House Economic Affairs Committee tapped ARTA to join the TWG National Digital Transformation Strategy. The Authority also supported Senate Bill 1764, or the proposed “Use of Digital Payments Act,” authored by Senator Sonny Angara, which mandates the use of digital payments in tax collection. , fees, tolls, taxes and other revenues, and in the payment of goods, services and other disbursements. Thanks to this measure, government payments such as cash grants will also be directly transferred to the bank accounts of beneficiaries. The Authority has also been asked to join the technical working group on the national digital transformation strategy in Congress.

There is just over a month to go before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, our one-in-a-lifetime visionary leader, steps down. We can see that even in the final days of his tenure, streamlining, re-engineering and automating government services remain among his top priorities. This new EO can be the culmination of all the digitization efforts of the administration and can be part of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion from 2022 to 2028 and the Strategic Plan for Information Systems from 2020 to 2023. Through these efforts, we can be sure that the ease of doing business in the Philippines and the efficient delivery of government services will be one of the lasting legacies of the Duterte administration to the Filipino people.

We would like to request the incoming administration to mandate government agencies to attend briefings and training programs on Regulatory Management System (RMS) and Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) . This is also stated in Section 5 of RA 11032. We now have a window of opportunity to ensure the full implementation of digitization in our government. But as I’ve always said, we can’t automate without first streamlining and reorganizing.

We would like to reiterate our commitment to the Filipino people that regardless of the changes in the country’s administration and political landscape, ARTA will continue to work towards realizing the dream of digitalization in government.

The author is director general of the Anti-Bureaucracy Authority (ARTA).

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