More regions eyed for establishment of competitiveness councils

TACLOBAN/ILOILO -- More regions are expected to form competitiveness councils soon as part of efforts to improve the country’s attractractiveness to foreign investors, said Guillermo M. Luz, private sector co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

"We’re done with orientation and agreements with six regions and we just need to do the follow-up work by June," Mr. Luz said in an interview yesterday after meeting with the regional development councils (RDC) based in Iloilo and Tacloban cities.

He cited Bicol, Western Visayas and Central Visayas, where such councils have recently been formed, as well as Northern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, and Soccsksargen (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City).

He added that there will also be consultations this month in Angeles, Batangas and Davao cities.


"The NCC hopes to cover all regions, but it will depend on request since this is voluntary. If they (regions) want to join, we will accept and we will help," Mr. Luz said.

"We realized that we cannot focus all the time on the international indicators if we don’t start working with our regions. If the regions improve then, overall, the national should also improve."

Regional competitiveness councils are supposed to monitor performance indicators, which have already been drafted, per local government unit, and propose policy and administrative reforms.

In Eastern Visayas, RDC economic development committee chairman Cynthia R. Nierras, who is also regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said RDC will soon convene to form the new council.

"We will submit it to RDC chair and formalize the organization within the next two months," Ms. Nierras said.

"With this committee, there is going to be a collective effort to analyze our region, keep track of different indicators, and line up with the efforts of the national government."


In Iloilo City in Western Visayas, Mr. Luz advised government officials to reduce the number of steps in securing and renewing business permits.

Mr. Luz said a client satisfaction survey conducted by the NCC showed that four out of 10 businessmen in the region want simpler processes and procedures in getting and renewing permits from the local government.

Mr. Luz said one aim, for instance, is to cut the number of such steps to up to three from the current five or more.

"The trend in number of signatures needed for the release of permits is four signatures," he noted.

"We intend to bring this down to two to three signatures which is the acceptable benchmark."

Mr. Luz also noted that Western Visayas could target cutting the time it takes to get a business permit to a day from the current two to three days.

The study said other ways to make things easier for business are establishing online application and payment systems, aswell as improving information on processes and requirements.

Mr. Luz said local government units (LGUs) should harness available technologies.

"For example, they can use iPads through which clients can give their feedback, which can be processed immediately using available applications. LGUs need to be creative in getting the pulse of their clients," he said.

NCC was formed in October 2006, under Executive Order No. 571, as a public-private sector task force to raise the country’s ranking in global competitiveness surveys "from the bottom third…to the top third by 2016," the council’s Web site read. Its private sector co-chairman has a government counterpart, in the person of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.

Last year, the Philippines ranked 75th out of 142 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, 136th out of 183 countries in the International Finance Corp. Doing Business Survey; and 41st out of 85 countries in the International Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Report.

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