PUBLiCUS Founder/CEO, Malou Tiquia, met with 30 local business permits and licensing officials in Tagaytay to push for smart city initiatives with new local leaders and administrators coming in after the midterm elections. She talked about low-hanging fruits that any new administration can immediately do which is frontline services. “You can immediately correct it by making securing/renewing business permits and licenses, and paying real property taxes as personal and responsive to your clientele as possible.” As has been the norm, dealing with government is costly and time consuming. Red-tape is built in the system and one needs a third party to facilitate things. Tiquia added, “the key to improving frontline services is changing how government interacts with citizens, organizations and companies. It has to be client focused, but how do you know what your clientele wants or needs unless you adopt citizens’ monitoring and feedback mechanisms. They have to tell you and it’s not the other way around. You have to listen and not just hear. You have to consult and not just meet with them.”
Tiquia lauded to the Jakarta Smart City project which was launched in 2014 using crowd sourcing apps, as well as to the Singapore’s smart nation initiatives. “With data and technology, there are new, open, shared and transparent systems that can make transactions with government easier, faster and more convenient in a digital environment. Technology is the front-line service enabler. It is no longer just adding staff and you solve the problem. You need to address significant productivity gap.” Tiquia also talked about the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018. “The seeds of what can be in other cities have been institutionalized under Republic Act No. 11032 from Business One Stop Shop or BOSS, limiting signatures to three (3) and with the no action after a considerable period, applications and renewals are deemed approved. Think outside the box, learn from Jakarta. You just have to use existing apps and platforms and embrace crowd sourcing protocols to get a real time feed from your clientele.”
Tiquia likewise made a pitch for federalism-parliamentary. “We cannot think using the unitary/central model. That may not be responsive to what is in situs.” Tiquia reiterated that LGUs need to evolve and would have to financially stand on their feet. IRA can’t just be the source for funding. If it is, we cannot go beyond what IRA defines for us and we will be forever waiting for national assistance, “Three years is fast and when the First 100 Days of a new administration is not felt, people will look for an alternative to fill in the vacuum,” Tiquia added.
Tiquia is an alumna of the National College of Public Administration of the University of the Philippines. She used to be a faculty member of the same institution handling research methods, public policy and regulatory governance. PUBLiCUS is a political consulting firm established in 2003 and based in Manila with ASEAN as practice area.