Developing the country’s competitive advantage through LGUs

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In the recently conducted 2nd Regional Competitiveness Summit, the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) disclosed the annual results of the 2014 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), a survey which measures competitiveness at the local government level using 28 indicators grouped into three equally-weighted pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, and Infrastructure. Scores on each pillar were combined to form the overall score used to rank cities and municipalities.

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Leading the roster of the most competitive cities this year were Makati City, Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental), and Naga (Camarines Sur). Under the category for municipalities, Daet (Camarines Norte) was ranked the most competitive overall, followed by General Trias (Cavite) and Kalibo (Aklan).

Awards were also given per category. The National Capital Region swept the awards for the Economic Dynamism category with the cities of Parañaque, Makati, and Manila taking the top spots while surprisingly, the Government Efficiency category was dominated by cities outside Metro Manila: Naga (Camarines Sur), Iloilo (Iloilo), and Angeles (Pampanga). For the Infrastructure category, the top cities were Davao (Davao del Sur), Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental), and Marikina. I still have to know the definition of each category but it boggles the mind how these cities managed to beat cities like Taguig or even Makati and Manila. Doesn’t economic dynamism go hand in hand with infrastructure and government efficiency for that matter?

Among the municipalities, the most competitive for Economic Dynamism were Tanza (Cavite), General Trias (Cavite), and San Pedro (Laguna), all from Region IV-A, CALABARZON. The most competitive municipalities for Government Efficiency were Kalibo (Aklan), Tupi (South Cotabato), and San Mateo (Isabela). Finally, for Infrastructure, the most competitive municipalities were Daet (Camarines Norte), Rodriguez (Rizal), and Paniqui (Tarlac).

The results highlight the importance of being competitive in several factors, especially those which are closely examined by potential investors. “The data will catch your attention, you will ask questions about certain places, it will hopefully have you open notes to particular places that will lead you to wonder why and why they are not performing well on certain indicators but most of all I think it will open up awareness and consciousness on the importance of being competitive,” Mr. Guillermo Luz, NCC co-chair said.

Mayor Tito Sarion of Daet, Camarines Norte expressed his gratitude for being judged the overall winner as the most competitive municipality this year, up from their 4th place last year.

“We are so happy with the results because I never expected that we will be the number one. We just made sure that we were able to gather all the data and the most important is that we transform this data into something significant for the people. We will have to sustain this by preparing and enhancing more our work in Daet. And one thing is for sure, we will try to live up with the people’s expectations from us.”

In addition to pursuing across-the-board competitiveness, Mr. Luz advised stakeholders at the Regional Competitiveness Summit to work together in building cities and municipalities which are affordable, accessible, socially-acceptable, environmentally-friendly, economically-viable, and climate-resilient.

NCC plans to double the number of LGUs to be included in the Index to 1,000 next year. From 122 cities and municipalities in the pilot run in 2013, the CMCI featured a record number of 136 cities and 399 municipalities this year.

Developing the competitive advantage of the Philippines should not only be concentrated in a few places as inclusive growth can only be achieved with the full participation of all cities and municipalities in terms of ease and cost of doing business, governance, and business environment. From the creation of the RCCs, to the first round of CMCI up to this year, significant progress has been made. The CMCI was developed by the NCC through the RCCs with the assistance of the INVEST Project of USAID. City and municipality data used in the CMCI were voluntarily submitted by the RCCs. It was designed to encourage local governments to regularly track data and eventually benchmark performance against other Asean cities to better manage their regions.

And today, everybody is rushing to get themselves measured because they know that this is one strategy that will bring in the big bucks, attract businessmen and investors to locate in their cities, and consequently, provide jobs to their constituents.

Indeed, there is reason to rejoice. And if Daet can do it, then the other municipalities can surely do it. It’s the only way to go about it. Focus on serving the people instead of serving politicians.

God is Great!

The full rankings as well as all underlying information on this year’s Index is available on the website www.competitive.org.ph.

thelmadm@yahoo.com

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