Zamboanga among fastest to produce building permits, study says

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 Dec) – Zamboanga City ranks fifth in the 183 world economies surveyed by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) report by how fast they can process building permits for small and medium entrepreneurs.

However, the 46 days it takes for Zamboanga City to process a businessman’s building permit is still slower compared to Singapore, which require only 25 days, said the report “Doing Business in the Philippines 2011” released at the Grand Regal Hotel here on Monday.

The report analyzed existing business regulations in 25 cities in the Philippines and 183 economies worldwide from the perspective of small to midsize domestic firms.

According to the report, it takes only 22 days to start a business in General Santos City, the number one in the 25 Philippine cities, where it is easiest to start a business. Davao City, which follows General Santos, takes 27 days.

Davao City, however, beat the rest of the country as the place where it is “easiest” to deal with construction permits. While it takes the city 51 days to approve a building permit, lagging behind Zamboanga by five days, Davao City registered the country’s lowest cost of 92.4 percent per income capita.

Although this cost of obtaining a building permit is lowest in the country, Davao City still ranks 67th in the 183 economies measured, registering an income per capita cost higher than Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, the report said.

Even General Santos, the city were it is easiest to start business in the country, still ranks the 101st among the economies surveyed.

The report, which is already the second of a series analyzing the ease of doing business from the perspective of small entrepreneurs, measured the different cities based on the ease to start a business, register a property or deal with construction permits.

Lawyer Aikaterini Leris, product specialist of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, said there has been a marked improvement in the ways of doing business among local government units benchmarked in the country from the last study.  She cited Davao City, which cut down seven procedures and 16 days, in the processing of business permit and licenses.  However, she said, there is still a “wide room for improvement to make them competitive with the leading world cities,” she said.

From the last Doing Business study conducted by IFC and the World Bank in 2008, 13 out of the 20 cities in the Philippines carried out 19 regulatory improvements to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and operate their business, said the 2011 report.  “The results are positive, with 65 per cent of the cities benchmarked for the second time since 2008 showing positive reforms in at least one of the three areas measured ¬- starting a business, registering property and dealing with construction permits.”

“While it is easiest to start a business in General Santos, obtain construction permits and register a property in Valenzuela, there hardly is a city in the country which topped all the areas measured,”  said Ananias Villacorta, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).  “We need to concentrate on reducing red tape because we are still lagging behind other economies measured,” he said.

Leris attributed the improvement of most cities to the regulatory reforms they carried out since the last survey and the computerization of their licensing system which largely helped reduce processing time and cost.

“Davao City has improved in the last two years, starting with the introduction of reforms which cut down seven procedures and 16 days in processing time,” Leris said. Among the Mindanao cities,  Davao was included in the Doing Business Survey in 2008, while Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga and the rest of the Mindanao cities were included for the first time.

“The high number of procedures is the main challenge for the local entrepreneurs and this can be answered by providing more one-stop shops, computerization and close coordination between the local and national government,” Leris said.  (Germelina Lacorte / MindaNews)