ARTA, New Zealand government sign NZ-PH Arrangement

photo courtesy of ARTA

14 September 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the New Zealand government signed an agreement on Tuesday to strengthen their relations and boost their efforts in the fields of ease of doing business and public sector efficiency.

The partnership was forged through the New Zealand Government to Government (G2G) Partnerships, Limited, an organization that connects governments from other countries to the New Zealand public sector to share its knowledge and expertise.

The said organization was formed in 2014 as New Zealand became known worldwide for having one of the most respected public sectors in the world.

Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, signed the arrangement at New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Kell’s Official Residence in Makati City.

This, after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte authorized the ARTA chief and Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven to represent the Philippine government when meeting, conferring, and negotiating with the authorized representatives of the New Zealand government.

“We are grateful to the New Zealand government for this partnership. We at ARTA always welcome expert opinions and other types of assistance from any local and international government agency, as well as those coming from the private sector,” Belgica said.

“Through this partnership, we hope to strengthen the reforms that we have been pushing for in the Philippine government with regard to E-governance, regulatory management, data-sharing across government agencies, and many more,” he added.

According to the agreement, the partnership between the two governments was borne out of a “mutual interest in improving the cost-effective and efficient delivery of government services, licenses and permits to the people of the Philippines, and organisations who want to do business in the Philippines.”

The two governments also expressed the same belief that improving business conditions and promoting government efficiency will be beneficial to the welfare and prosperity of both the current and future generations.

“New Zealand is proud of the steps it has taken towards establishing a citizen-centred public sector. With the signing of the arrangement, we look forward to working with ARTA in helping the Philippines achieve its goals towards reform. New Zealand supports ARTA’s efforts in creating a culture of innovation in the public sector and hope that this arrangement will enable us to provide support where we can,” Ambassador Kell said.

The main objective of the arrangement is mutual cooperation between the two signatories. As such, the New Zealand government can bring in the Creative HQ—the country’s leading provider of structured innovation programs for startups, corporates, and government—and relevant government departments and state sector agencies for their expertise during their coordinations with ARTA. Meanwhile, the Authority can tap all national government agencies, local government units, and other government instrumentalities working with the agency to help in their projects.

The projects that the Philippine and New Zealand government will work on will center on capacity and capability building; innovation in service design and delivery; technology transfer and adoption related to E-governance, government technology and innovation methods and practices; and development of academic regulatory management program courses.

In particular, the two governments will focus on promoting, designing, and delivering E- government solutions to co-develop service solutions for the Philippine government; capability building for government officials on service design and methods, new technologies, and sound regulatory systems, and their utilization in improving government services and processes; developing pilot projects to showcase the use of advanced technologies in government; developing projects for secure data-gathering across government agencies; developing academic regulatory management programs; and developing information campaigns to boost awareness on ease of doing business and anti-red tape initiatives, among others.

The arrangement between the Philippine and New Zealand governments will be valid for three years and will be renewed automatically for equivalent periods, unless one of the participants notifies the other of its intention to terminate the arrangement.

In case that the arrangement is terminated, the participants will continue to carry out joint projects until completion.


Statement of ARTA Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica on Senate Bill 1764 or the Proposed Use of Digital Payments Act

15 September 2021

We at the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) would like to join the numerous government officials who have expressed support for Senate Bill 1764 or the proposed Use of Digital Payments Act authored by Senator Sonny Angara.

SB 1764 mandates the use of digital payment in the collection of taxes, fees, tolls, imposes, and other revenues, and in the payment of goods, services, and other disbursements. Through this measure, government payments such as cash aid will also be directly transferred to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts.

With ARTA’s goal to streamline, reengineer, and automate government systems, we have long been pushing for the use of digital payments.

This Senate Bill is in line with our mandate to improve the ease of doing business and delivery of government services in the country. It is also in accordance with our vision of a highly efficient and technology-enabled Philippine government.

No less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been advocating for our transition to e-governance. We believe that digital payments is an important requirement for its realization.

Digital payments is also one of the main requirements for some of the Authority’s projects like the electronic Business One-Stop Shop (eBOSS) and the Central Business Portal.

Many Filipinos have enjoyed the safety and convenience of making payments online. We hope that our respected lawmakers share our vision and pass this measure into law.


IATF approves ARTA, PhilHealth’s recommendation to lift limitations on DCPM coverage

13 September 2021 – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the recommendation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to lift the limitations on the coverage of the debit-credit payment method (DCPM).

This will allow PhilHealth to be more flexible in applying the DCPM’s coverage, should its board decide to do so. This is part of the plan to make the DCPM available to all hospitals, that will expedite the release of payment for COVID-19 claims made by both public and private hospitals.

IATF Resolution No. 138, Series of 2021 rescinded the provision in IATF Resolution No. 111, Series of 2021 with regard to the applicability of the DPCM under PhilHealth Circular No. 2021-0004.

“The nationwide applicability of the DCPM shall be left to the sound business judgment of PhilHealth Board,” the recent issuance, released on 9 September 2021, read.

Prior to this, the DCPM was only available to high and critical risk areas as determined by the Two Week Growth Rate (TWGR), Average Daily Attack Rate (ADAR), and Health Care Utilization Rate (HCUR).

In one of ARTA’s hearings with PhilHealth, Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, suggested the expansion of the DCPM’s coverage as one of the ways to expedite the disbursement of unpaid COVID-19 reimbursement claims of both public and private hospitals.

The DCPM allows hospitals to receive 60 percent of their reimbursement claims even if PhilHealth is not yet done in processing their documentary requirements.

In an interview over ANC on Friday, Belgica said PhilHealth is now making headway in clearing its backlog of unpaid COVID-19 hospital reimbursement claims.

This, after the state insurer adopted some of ARTA’s recommendations to streamline its processes.

“ARTA and PhilHealth have already made some significant headway, especially with the meeting with IATF yesterday. IATF supported some of the initiatives already,” Belgica said.

“We’re making headways and hopefully, sooner or later, we’ll get those payments going,” he added.

As the state insurer’s issues require a whole-of-government approach, Belgica said ARTA formed a “support group” comprised of members of various government agencies to help PhilHealth in disbursing payment for its unpaid hospital claims.

Officials from the Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) have agreed to become part of the support group. Belgica said the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Streamlining Government Processes (OPASGP) will also be invited to join the group while officials from the Commission on Audit (COA) will be invited as resource speakers.

In a meeting on Friday, PhilHealth Area Vice President Walter Bacareza said they formed their own group to mirror the one that ARTA is planning to create to help them receive more expert opinions from government officials and private stakeholders.

Bacareza shared that PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran ordered them to study the possibility of conducting their Medical Prepayment Review (MPR) post-audit for a limited time to tide over hospitals during the health crisis.

In their previous meetings, ARTA suggested that PhilHealth conduct a more extensive MPR post-audit to fast track the release of claims. This, as estimates presented to the Authority showed that only a fraction of the claims that the state insurer receives contain wrong diagnoses.

Belgica told Bacareza that the DICT can provide them with additional cloud storage to partially resolve their ICT issues. Earlier, PhilHealth complained of its slow internet connection and low cloud storage space.

The Authority and the other agencies present during the meeting will continue discussions to craft a clear policy on which medicines used to treat COVID-19 patients can PhilHealth cover.

The ARTA chief signified his willingness to participate in PhilHealth’s board meetings to discuss the agency’s policy and streamlining recommendations to further improve the state insurer’s services.

However, Belgica reiterated his strong reminder to PhilHealth to release the payment for the COVID-19 reimbursement claims of hospitals within 60 days in accordance with its special law.

Non-compliance may lead to further investigations and possible filing of cases for violation of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 by ARTA.

“We are really hopeful with the pace that we’re going and the significant headways that we’re having. We’re optimistic that the issues of PhilHealth will be settled sooner rather than later,” Belgica said.