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New task group to focus on streamlining permit process for energy projects

By Angelica Y. Yang, Reporter

THE ESTABLISHMENT of the energy virtual one-stop shop (EVOSS) Task Group, which aims to streamline the permitting process, is expected to help attract more investors to the country’s energy sector, government officials said.

“It will be good for the energy sector as it will encourage more investors as processes are streamlined for project permitting and approval,” Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Commissioner-in-Charge Floresinda G. Baldo-Digal told BusinessWorld on Viber on Wednesday.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on July 2 Executive Order (EO) 143 which ordered the creation of the EVOSS Task Group that will take on the power and functions of the steering committee as well as additional responsibilities.

Ms. Baldo-Digal said the creation of the task force will “enhance the implementation” of Republic Act (RA) 11234 or the act establishing the EVOSS to streamline the permitting process for power generation, transmission and distribution projections. Signed in 2019, the law created the EVOSS steering committee but only with a two-year life span.

Under the new EO, the EVOSS Task Group’s additional obligations include the streamlining of processes, continually reviewing permitting and licensing requirements, ensuring compliance to the law, and monitoring the performance of the one-stop shop.

“With EVOSS getting a second lease on life, the task group can continue its work in terms of reducing the number of processes and reducing the number of offices that any investor will have to go through before putting up a plant. Now this task group is given the same powers (as the EVOSS steering committee) to fight the red tape,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs his chamber’s energy committee, told BusinessWorld in a phone call on Wednesday.

He added that with the signing of EO 143, Mr. Duterte recognized the need to implement the automation of the permitting processes required when embarking on energy projects.

Mr. Gatchalian said the task group must set a definite timetable on automating the permitting processes.

“I’m hoping that through the extension of (the EVOSS’) life through the EO, I’m hoping that they put concrete time table for implementation. It cannot exist forever. Fighting red tape in energy should also…reach a point where efficiency is being met,” he said.

The task group is chaired by the Office of the President, with the Energy secretary as the vice-chairperson. The heads of the departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications and Technology are also members of the task group, along with those in charge of the Energy Regulatory Commission, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the National Water Resources Board, the market operator and the system operator. Selected representatives from the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors are also included as members.

Unlike the EVOSS steering committee, the newly formed task group does not have a set life span.

The EVOSS is an online system which allows for the coordinated submission and processing of information related to applications covering new power generation, transmission and distribution projects, according to the Department of Energy.

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