There’s a new trend starting, triggered off by the last elections. It’s about the rise of New, Young Mayors across the country. Out of 145 cities across the country, 70 of them have new, first-term Mayors. And I just learned that out of the approximately 1,500 municipalities in the country, 600 also have new Mayors. I’m sure a number of them were actually Mayors in the past who sat out a term or two and were returning to their old posts. Some may also come from political dynasties, and thus are not really “new” to the position. Nonetheless, this presents an opportunity for a fresh start for cities and municipalities; an opportunity to re-imagine and re-define themselves as more liveable cities.
The Philippines has had a spotty record of urban planning. What started out as beautifully master-planned cities generations ago have ended up as cities characterized by congestion and traffic, little or poor access to mass transit, few open spaces, parks and public spaces, and many blighted and derelict sections. And yet we’ve also seen some areas beautifully planned and built out in different parts of the country. Whether by design or accident, the parts that have become “liveable” are thriving, booming and driving growth.
Have you ever been frustrated by the manual process of filing for any government permit ? You usually have to fill out multiple forms, line up in various offices or even commute from one office to another, and wait for some time.
One of the challenges we’ve faced in the Ease of Doing Business project was developing technology solutions quickly. For a variety of reasons, we couldn’t get government agencies to move fast enough. Procurement processes took too long or procedures for obtaining licenses and permits could not be simplified. In the meantime, entrepreneurs and investors suffered through the manual procedures.
Every year, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation survey businessmen across 190countries on the topic “Ease of Doing Business”. The Doing Business report focuses on 10 common steps which entrepreneurs have to go through in their business life-cycle : Starting a Business (e.g., incorporation), Registering Property, Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Protecting Minority Investors, Getting Credit, Paying Taxes, Trading Across Borders (e.g., importing and exporting), Enforcing Contracts (e.g., going through courts), and Resolving Insolvency (e.g., closing a business).
At the National Competitiveness Council, we believe that city and municipality competitiveness is a key building block for national competitiveness. We also believe that with over 100 million people across 7,000 islands, it is important to create more economic engines in the form of LGUs to drive long-term economic growth and development. Building these economic engines will disperse investment and job opportunities and spur inclusive growth. It will also spread risk for companies looking for new business locations and create a better investment environment for the country as a whole because there would now be more options available.
Over the last six years, we have tracked the country’s competitiveness ranking across a series of global competitiveness reports to see how we compare against other countries. These reports range from well-known ones like the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the World Bank-IFC’s Ease of Doing Business Report, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index to the less well-known like the Failed States Index and Logistics Performance Index.
Building local competitiveness is essential to enhance long-term national competitiveness. Last July, we re-launched the Liveable Cities Challenge (LCC) with the goal to help cities develop comprehensive, replicable, and implementable solutions to improve their liveability while strengthening local communities in the process.
Today, the Liveable Cities Challenge (LCC) was launched at the League of Cities’ 63rd General Assembly at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas. The challenge was opened to all cities in the country.