Name of the Organization

City Government of Mandaue

Name of the Office/Unit that leads the implementation of this best practice entry

Business Permit and Licensing Office

Focus Area of the Best Practice

Citizens / Customers, Digitization and New Technologies

Date the best practice was first implemented

25 August 2022 – up to the present

Summary of the Best Practice

Mandaue City is the first highly urbanized city in the Philippines to adopt an electronic Business Permit and Licensing System (eBPLS) provided by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

While other LGUs have been given access to the eBPLS, Mandaue City went beyond DICT’s expectations and implemented an ambitious program by utilizing the eBPLS system to its fullest, and has now become the forefront for other LGUs. Seeing the innovative practice adopted by the City of Mandaue, other LGUs which do not have the funds to purchase third-party service providers are now partnering with the DICT and looking at Mandaue City’s best practices and policies. Several neighboring cities and municipalities have visited the City recently to observe the implementation of the online eBPLS.

Institutionalizing the fully online mechanism of the eBPLS has shown dramatic improvement in the number of business registrants, especially with business tax collection. Business registrants increased by 10-20% from 2020 to 2022, and Tax collections from January to June 2022 amounted to Php 1,040,806,278.12 compared to Php 889,724,627.54 in the same period last 2021. This is a 16.98% increase in total business tax collection for the same period, which can be attributed to our Online eBPLS system’s implementation, transcending expectations.

The Challenge

The pandemic has dramatically affected the business sector with several lockdowns and community quarantines; some businesses were forced to close. The City of Mandaue has more or less 16,000 business registrants, so we had to cater to more than 800 clients a day coming to the 2021 business permit renewal. This would be a real challenge as we were still at the height of the pandemic, considering that social distancing was one of the minimum health standards to follow.

The City already had an existing business permit processing system, but the same needed to be capable of processing online transactions, much less online payments. Aside from this, shifting to an online system thru the third-party provider will mean expending additional public funds. Furthermore, it will take considerable time to become fully functional.

Recognizing this predicament, the City, with the help of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), implemented eBPLS in four months. Even bolder was our quest to implement a fully online system, from application to payment and issuance, the first highly-urbanized city at that.

It was challenging as we had to create local ordinances to adapt to the new normal, including implementing a fully-online business permit processing and online payment options. It was not just a matter of adapting a new system; it required the necessary “mind-setting” to all stakeholders, especially the business community, as Mandaue City was implementing a more manual business application procedure.

With the help of City Officials, aggressive public information drives, and a dedicated team, the BPLO beat all odds and created the most impressive result.

Solution and Impact

The implementation of the best practices in the adaption of the electronic Business Permit and Licensing System required the whole-of-City approach, from the support of the local officials, cooperation of the business sector, and reinforcement by the DICT to ensure that the local implementing body, BPLO, are fully equipped with the technical know-how and training.

Mandaue City had to create all the enabling laws and facilities in a matter of 4 months to implement the eBPLS and pioneer its fully online functionality. Despite the skepticism from the stakeholders, the BPLO succeeded in its vision for the eBPLS. In fact, despite the expected revenue losses due to the sudden cessation of business operations, our City still posted a total of Php 909,203,396.88 in business tax collections as of 31 July 2021. This is a slight increase compared to the collection in 2020, which amounted to Php 900,479,853.78 in the same period. As a testament to the innovations continuously implemented by the City of Mandaue, tax collections from January to June 2022 amounted to Php 1,040,806,278.12 compared to Php 889,724,627.54 in the same period last 2021. This is a 16.98% increase in total business tax collection for the same period, which can be attributed to the implementation of the online eBPLS system.

The turnaround time in processing business permits has also greatly improved since the online eBPLS. From an average turnaround time of 18 days during the January 2021 business permit renewal, we trimmed it down to 3 to 5 days by the end of 2021 and further lessened than one day to 2 days turnaround time by 2022.

The BPLO continues to create impact assessments in implementing the eBPLS to ensure efficiency. In addition, online webinars and training sessions at the barangay level are regularly made to educate business owners about the new system. Informational videos and instructional materials were available on BPLO’s online platforms, such as its Facebook and YouTube page. BPLO worked closely with its stakeholders and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the information drive, and the latter provided us with logistical support and manpower. The City’s efforts paid off because 99% of the clients in the system applied online, while only 1% were walk-in clients.

Consistency is essential to any policy, thus to guarantee the sustainability of the CIty’s best practices, several local ordinances have been issued, such as Ordinance No. 15-2019-1479, “An Ordinance Codifying and Streamlining the Business Permit and Licensing System of Mandaue City, Ordinance No.15-2020-1508 “An Ordinance Creating the Mandaue City Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO), by Converting the BPLO from a Section under the Office of the City Mayor into a Separate Department,” Ordinance No. 15-2020-1589 “An Ordinance Setting Mandaue City’s Processing of Business Permits, Regulatory Clearances, and License under the “New Normal” and after that, among others.

Other LGUs also wanted to learn about the City’s best practices and get tips on implementing the program in their locality. Several LGUs have already visited the city to benchmark and learn how the city government implemented innovation in the program’s success.

Officials and staff from the City of Talisay, the Municipality of Consolacion, the City of Dumaguete, and the Municipality of Compostela have previously visited the city government office to observe internal procedures they can replicate in their local government unit. Forms, copies of relevant ordinances, and operational handouts were likewise shared, which will be of great use in their adoption of the online eBPLS system.

Milestones

In recognition of these innovative efforts, BPLO bagged the Silver Trailblazer Award during the MandaueGovernance Forum: Road to Resiliency program last 11 March 2022. BPLO, in cooperation with Mandaue Investment Promotions Action Center, also bagged the Silver Trailblazer Award for Ease of Doing Business.

Aside from that, several national agencies have recognized the City’s innovative practices. Last 29 October 2021, the city bagged third place in the Digital Governance Awards (City Category) for its Electronic Business Permits and Licensing System (eBPLS). The best in Business Empowerment (G2B) Award category recognizes the effect of an LGU’s practices integrating ICT solutions, the commitment of its administration, in the LGU’s responsiveness to the needs of business enterprises, thereby creating business opportunities.

The city government was also one of the ten finalists of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit last 15 October 2021. In the Department of Trade and Industry’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index for 2021, we were awarded as the Most Improved City and got high marks for Economic Dynamism, ranking 5th out of all the highly urbanized cities in the country.

Because of its successful implementation of the online eBPLS system, Mandaue City has been invited to several training and webinars to share the City’s best practices. Mandaue was also invited to share during the National Association of Business Permits and Licensing Officers webinar and in the orientation conducted by DICT in the Mindanao Cluster, the City Treasurers, and BPLO Officers of Negros Oriental.