This article was originally published with The Manila Times on September 19, 2019.
By 2035, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) estimates that the economic cost of traffic in the Philippines would rise to P5.4 billion — each day. Clearly, travelling around the metro to different meetings or handling various concerns is incredibly arduous.
Enter stage left — the One Stop Shop model, one that I have continuously advocated for. The inherent efficiency of clients and customers going to a singly place for multiple services saves time and money.
My business consultancy — Caucus, Inc. — was patterned from that model. Formed by experts in law, finance, compliance, advertising, marketing, strategy, accounting, among others, clients are given a synergistic and wholistic advisory experience. For instance, for one client, we started by handling compliance matters that grew to marketing and advertising, culminating with the production of the client’s ads. One place, multiple services — that is the goal.
The same One Stop Shop model is at the core of governmental strides for efficiency, led by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), a new government agency created by the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018. By virtue of that same law, a Business One Stop Shop (BOSS) is mandated to be created in every city or municipality, where applications for permits and licenses are to be received and processed. A single place to process applications for business permits, mayor’s permits, fire inspection, etc.
In ARTA, we saw there was a need to unify not just the departments or agencies of the local government units, but also those of the national government. Hence, Director General Jeremiah Belgica has continuously pushed for and is leading the charge to create the National Business One Stop Shop (NBOSS) where the national agencies involved in starting a business would be co-located and streamlined. The idea is you come to the NBOSS, submit your applications, pay the fees, and leave with all the documents you need to start and operate your business. The agencies that would co-locate are the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue, PhilHealth, Home Development Mutual Fund, and so on. The idea — the papers do the walking, not the applicant.
The Tianjin experience
Interestingly, I recently had the privilege of joining other senior government officials on a study tour on the management of industrial parks, centered in Tianjin, China. One major aspect they implemented in the Tianjin Economic Development Area (TEDA) is the one stop shop.
On a personal note, the visit to their BOSS was inspiring. It was designed like a hotel, not a government office. On the forefront and all throughout the process the guiding principle is customer experience. You are greeted at the lobby and assisted by a processor to ascertain the proper documents. Should the applicant miss a document or requirement, a spacious business center is available for typing and printing. Once everything is in order the applicant proceeds to the processing area, and once the corresponding number is called, the papers are ready. Oh and the costs of the business center, the printing services, the filing and issuance of licenses of permits? Zero.
The Tianjin BOSS covers a wide range of services by their respective governmental units. After all, their attractiveness as a Special Economic Zone brings in large firms and corporations. From start to finish, applicants can register their businesses, gain special economic zone status, apply for the work visas of their expats, etc. all in the same place.
Bataan leading by example
Last week, I had the honor to attend the unveiling of the Bataan BOSS, a project of Governor Albert “Abet” Garcia. Quite frankly it has, in my humble opinion, the potential to become the model BOSS for the rest of the country. Nicknamed “The Bunker”, the Bataan BOSS is well-planned and aims to bring in and co-locate government agencies on a range of services and sectors. One floor is dedicated just for starting a business, while another floor is for everything overseas Filipino work-related, the latter encompassing a different set of government agencies including the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, etc.
At the end of it all, the model’s success relies on the spirit of the BOSS itself — customer or constituent experience. It is hoped that gone are the days when weary applicants spend hours in one office, only to have to return another day, sometimes weeks after, only to get a simple permit, license or franchise. The efficiency of these governmental processes has a significant, if not crucial impact on the country’s ease of doing business, and therefore should be a priority.
The author is Founder and CEO of Caucus, Inc., a multi-industry, multi-disciplinary management consultancy firm. He graduated MBA (De La Salle University), Juris Doctor (Far Eastern University), and Masters of Law in International Commercial Law (Honours, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom). He also studied Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture in Fuzhou, China, was a Chevening-HSBC UK Government Scholar, a Confucius Institute Scholar, an alumnus of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, and a Fellow of the Asia Global Institute – University of Hong Kong. The author may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.