Saturday, May 25, 2024

PH needs gov’t call center for permits, services — solon

The Philippines may be the world’s business process outsourcing (BPO) superpower but its government has no unified 24-hour call center that will reply to queries on often-transacted documents or often-sought services, said Sen. Ralph Recto in calling for an “improved customer service culture” in the public sector.

call center

Recto said the administration that will assume office on June 30 should consider “pooling the resources of the top 10 government agencies in terms of clientele base” in building “a common hotline service.”

“There should be a go-to number, a one-stop national helpline,” Recto said. “If a refrigerator maker has a 24-hour helpline, why can’t a government agency which earns more money from more clients not maintain one?”

He said such a hotline or government call center will benefit users of public documents.

‘”If you’re an overseas contract worker, you need to have one number you can call, which will then route your calls to the responsible agency, instead of spending hours in traffic going to the offices of POEA, OWWA, MARINA, NBI, TESDA, SSS and many more, ” he said.

Recto said if a single hotline number is not feasible at the moment, then one of the first executive orders the next president must issue is the mandatory putting up of a round-the-clock hotline by agencies serving a large clientele base.

“One good candidate,” Recto said, is the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth). “If HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) can afford to maintain 24-hour call numbers, then PhilHealth certainly could,” he said.

Recto said profitable pension agencies or government-run mutual funds, with their good bottomlines, should be able to expand their hotline services.

To their credit, GSIS, PAGIBIG and SSS have their own 24-hour hotlines, but the challenge, according to Recto, “is to designate more customer care representatives and expand capacity, because as they become more popular, more satisfied customers will be using them, Recto said.

Recto said agencies that earn billions yearly from the documents they issue should use part of their income in establishing 24/7 helplines.

Among these are DFA, which would earn P4.6 billion from passport issuance this year; NBI, with a 2016 forecast revenue of P594 million from clearances; POEA, which will collect P496 million in clearances; and LTO, which will rake in P14.5 billion in vehicle registration fees and P1.6 billion in driving licenses.

Recto said that while “there may be self-help apps for many problems or queries in applying for a government document or service, there are complicated queries that can only be answered by a human voice at the other end of the phone. ”

Building a “customer care culture” through easy to access help and information is one way to cut red tape in the country, Recto said.

Next to crime, red tape is another scourge that the succeeding President needs to put on top of government’s “hit-list” to put the country back in order, the senator said.

“If the next President has a hit-list in the anti-crime campaign, he or she must also draw up a hit-list to cut down red tape in government transactions,” he said.

Citing a report issued by the World Bank last October, Recto noted that red tape costs the country P140 billion in opportunity losses annually. The same report ranked the Philippines at a low 95th among 189 economies in overall ease of doing business.

As one way of cutting red tape, Recto said the next administration must study proposals to limit the number of times that an ordinary citizen has to go to government agencies to get licenses and transact business.

Government must also maximize information technology, he said. “Documents can be applied for online and released online.”

Recto added that another hotline which needs fixing is the Philippine National Police’s 117 emergency numbers.

“You can call pizza delivery and it arrives in 30 minutes. You call the police and you don’t know when they would show up,” Recto said.

Recto said the 117 system lacks people, slowed down by obsolete hardware, and is swamped with prank calls, “with the 2 million prank calls alone in 2012, or 96 percent of total calls received.”

He said there is a need to put up unified number because many areas are using different numbers. “Emergency numbers must be short, easy to memorize and uniform throughout the land.”


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