Acquiring licenses to operate (LTO) from the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) for micro-enterprises is set to be easier starting January 2019 through a six-month pilot program launched by the Department of Health (DoH) in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“This is a product of close and strong collaborations between the DTI and DoH. We employ a whole-of-government approach to achieve President Duterte’s goal of helping the little guys, the micro-enterprises,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
“These people chose to change the course of their lives through starting a business. Hence, we need to lessen their hurdles in growing their business and mainstreaming their products.”
The program focuses on businesses producing low-risk products with assets no larger than P3 million. Under it, FDA will be deploying representatives in DTI Negosyo Centers in the National Capital Region to train micro-enterprises and pre-assess LTO applications.
The program also exempts micro-businesses from getting certificates of product registration, which is a separate certification from the FDA aside from the LTO.
Among the low-risk products to be accommodated for the program are those included in FDA Circular 2016-014: fats, oils and fat emulsions; processed fruits, vegetables and edible fungi, seaweed, nuts and seeds; confectionary; cereal-based products; processed meat and meat products; bakery wares and bakery-related products; sweeteners like honey; salts, spices, soups, sauces, salads and protein products; beverages; ready-to-eat savories such as potato chips and chicharon.
To further streamline the process, FDA committed to release the LTOs in 15 days.
The FDA is also working on an online portal, to be called IDOL (Initiative ni Digong Operation Livelihood), to further fast-track the application for business permits. The portal will feature online payment and training modules for securing FDA permits and licenses.
After the pilot run, the agencies will be evaluating the program to determine its feasibility for rollout in more regions across the country.
According to FDA, the program aims to first “gauge the response of entrepreneurs to this change,” and is a part of FDA’s bid to be a more agile organization while “continuously upholding public health.”
“Ensuring the safety of products by micro enterprises points to DoH’s mandate to protect the consumers most of all. They are the reason we’re doing this,” DoH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
The memorandum of understanding to launch the pilot program was signed on 21 December between Lopez, Duque, DoH Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo and FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno.