Philippines Introduces New Laws, Initiatives To Boost Innovation And Entrepreneurshipby Fintechnews Philippines August 5, 2019
The Philippines government is pushing for innovation and entrepreneurship, introducing new regulations and programs to support young companies, and leading numerous projects to bring convenient e-government public services to the masses.
The Philippines Innovation Act
The Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, has signed a new law aimed at boosting innovation to help “promote growth and national competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs),” according to a report by the SunStar Philippines.
Signed on April 17, the Republic Act 11293, or the Philippine Innovation Act, aims to “remove obstacles to innovation by suppressing bureaucratic hurdles” and “encourage entrepreneurial attitude in order to stimulate growth ambitions in business.” The new law seeks to promote innovation and internationalization activities of MSMEs as driver of sustainable and inclusive growth.
Under the law, “the government shall adopt a broader view in developing its innovation goals and strategies covering all potential types and sources of innovation.” Priority areas of focus include food security and sustainable agriculture, the “Blue Economy” or ocean resources, education, health, secure, clean and reliable energy, climate change, governance, infrastructure, digital economy and transportations.
The government has committed to allocate an initial revolving fund of 1 billion PHP (US$19 million) for the first year of the implementation of the new law.
The National Innovation Council (NIC)
The Philippine Innovation Act created the National Innovation Council (NIC), which has been tasked “to develop the country’s innovation goals, priorities, and long-term national strategy.”
The council will develop strategies to promote the creation of new ideas to be turned into new and quality products, processes, and services aimed at improving the welfare of low income and marginalized groups.
It will also create a comprehensive support program for MSME internationalization and participation in the local and global value chains. These programs will include coaching and mentoring in the areas of design, technology extension services, standard business practices in contracting, accounting and project management, quality control, business services such as commercialization and management, and patents among others.
Additionally, the NIC will formulate a 10-year National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) to establish the country’s vision and long-term goals for innovation and to serve as a roadmap for improving innovation governance.
President Duterte will serve as chairperson of the NIC while the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority will act as vice chairperson. Other cabinet members such as the secretaries of trade and industry, science and technology, transportation, health, energy, and national defense, are also included in the NIC.
Fostering a startup ecosystem
The Philippines government has been pushing for greater digitalization, initiating a number of projects to foster startup development and innovation.
In December 2018, officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed the Startup Assistance Program 2019 – 2023, according to a report by Newsbytes.ph.
The initiative aims to help startups and entrepreneurs by providing incentives like travel grants, working facilities, access to funding, and assistance in getting visas and business permits.
But one area in particular where the government is putting a lot of effort into is digital public services.
Outlined in the Philippine Digital Transformation Strategy 2022, released in February 2019 by the government, the goal is to have fully integrated and deployed e-government systems by 2022.
The DICT, the lead agency in promoting e-governance, is in charge of developing an integrated government portal, which will allow the public to access various government services online. The portal is still undergoing pilot testing, and will likely be implemented by the end of the year, supporting at least online services provided by major government agencies, the DICT secretary told Business World last week.
The Department of Finance (DoF) will also undergo a digital transformation and has already developed a long-term strategy with the goal of improving online service to the public.
Finance assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II told Business World, that the digital transformation agenda covers optimizing business processes, implementing an enabling infrastructure, maximizing the use of information for effective business operations, and improving the digital literacy of the government work force.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has partnered with South Korea to develop an e-invoicing program. The program is still in its early stages and is targeted for completion by December 2022.
And as for the Bureau of Customs, Lambino said its digitalization program, known as the Inter-Agency Business Process Interoperability (IABPI) system, is in a more advanced stage.
The IABPI system will allow the Philippines to link up with neighboring states through the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), which aims to enable the streamlined electronic exchange of border and customs documents among member states.
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