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ARTA to stop travel charges on basic goods distributors

ARTA to stop travel charges on basic goods distributors

MANILA, Philippines — The government is set to prohibit local government units (LGUs) from imposing travel fees on distributors of basic goods in the country, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said yesterday.

The ARTA said it is drafting a joint memorandum circular, which will prevent LGUs from collecting what it described as “illegal” fees and taxes before vehicles transporting essential goods and products are allowed passage in their localities.

“The memorandum will move to repeal policies, issuances, or ordinances imposing pass-through fees in several LGUs,” read the ARTA statement.

The other agencies involved in the initiative are the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and of Finance and the Bureau of Local Government Finance.

Sought for comment, DILG spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the move is in response to numerous complaints against some LGUs requiring pass-through fees on delivery vehicles.

Malaya did not name the LGUs which are imposing travel fees, but criticized them for adding burden on small businesses that are helping the country deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These increase the cost of doing (business) as well as add to the red tape,” he said in a text message.

In another development, the ARTA is spearheading the setting up of the Go SmARTApp program to simplify government transactions in the country.

The program involves harmonizing existing systems already put in place by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the DILG, and other national government agencies under the Go SmARTApp single platform for government transactions.

The platform, initially intended solely for use of LGUs for their business permit and licensing system and all other government services being offered to the public, will also be incorporating the national government’s COVID-19 contact tracing application StaySafe.ph and the DICT’s Electronic Business Permits and Licensing System or eBPLS software, per the Ease of Doing Business and Anti-Red Tape Advisory Council’s endorsement during its meeting yesterday.

ICT Undersecretary for digital Philippines Emmanuel Rey Caintic said they were closely working with ARTA for the program.

ARTA is also discussing with the DILG and the Department of Social Welfare and Development the inclusion in the platform of the fund transfer feature of the social amelioration funds to beneficiaries. – Rainier Allan Ronda

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