Baguio remains competitive, mayor says

The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines  –  Shrugging off Baguio's poor showing in a 2012  competitiveness poll, city officials casted doubts on the reliability and accuracy of data gathered by the Trade department about doing business in the city.

The summer capital, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said, remains competitive.

DTI-CAR Regional Director Myrna Pablo, who serves as chairman of the Regional Competitiveness Committee; Assistant Regional Director Carmelita Usman, Investments Promotions officer Vilma Abad and DTI Baguio-Benguet director Freda Gawisan, who presented the results before the department heads, said they were supplied incomplete data and most of the information provided were contradicting therefore not satisfying the factors and indicators provided under the survey.

The survey is commissioned by the National Competitiveness Council and is done annually to assess the performance of the municipalities and cities toward realizing the country’s goal of improving its economic standing in the various international survey groups.

The parameters were economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.

Year 2012 results around the country showed the City of Tabuk performing better, placing 38th in the survey.

The survey was topped by Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, San Fernando (Pampanga) and Butuan City.

Domogan, the Public Information Office said, has asked the department heads to confer with the DTI and the Department of the Interior and Local Government Baguio to reconcile the data and the procedures being done by the city for revalidation by the identified offices.

“It is not important that we become number 2 or 3 or be on top of the survey, what is important is that the data are reconciled and that the real situation of our city is reflected,” the mayor had said.

Domogan said fiscal status of the city remains good as its local revenues remain bigger than its Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) share and therefore, unlike other cities, does not depend solely on the IRA to finance its operations and projects.

“Despite being one of the smallest cities with only 57.49 square kilometer land area, our city generates more than P800 million from local sources which is larger that our IRA share of P530 million," he said.

The proposed budget of Baguio City for next year is about P1.39 billion.

“If indeed we are not competitive economically, then we would have been experiencing financial problems but as it is, we are okay and financially stable. We have no loans from internal or external sources. Of course, we cannot execute all the projects we want but steadily, our local revenues are growing and they support the budgetary needs of our city,” the mayor said.

Among those to be revalidated is the city’s business process and licensing system (BPLS) where the city performed poorly having not complied with the recommended BPLS streamlining reforms particularly the use of a unified form, lessening of the number of signatories to five, processing steps to five and processing time to 10 days for new permits and five days for renewal. As per assessment, the city does not use the unified form, has seven signatories and nine steps.

Baguio has expressed willingness to further streamline the city’s BPLS system to comply with the reforms as long as these are realistic and conform with the city’s business situation.

“If the changes would mean that we will do away with steps that are crucial in ensuring the applicants’ compliance with our requirements and will be in violations of our existing ordinances, then I will not allow them as we cannot sacrifice the integrity of our process just to shorten it,” Domogan said. - Artemio A. Dumlao










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