Thursday, April 18, 2013

Investing In Local Economic Development (LED): Competitive Cities On The Rise *

(3rd of four parts)

* A paper presented by San Fernando City Mayor Oscar S. Rodriguez, to the Plenary Session, 38th Philippine Business Conference, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on October 9, 2012 held in Manila Hotel, Manila.

New business investments in San Fernando in 2011 amounted to 610.22 million pesos, and we expect this to increase further to more than 625 million pesos this year.

We believe that this improved business and employment performance are brought about by better City Hall systems for the investors. For instance, we have streamlined the standard processing time for the issuance of Business Permits in 2011 to just 23 minutes compared to 2 hours in 2005 (in the case of new permits), and to 19 minutes compared to 1 hour and 40 minutes in 2005 (in the case of permit renewals).

Significant advances have also been achieved in cutting the lead time for the issuance of Business Permits: from 2 weeks in 2005 to only 2 days in 2011 during off-peak periods and 5 days during peak periods, in the case of new Business Permits. During off peak seasons, the lead time for renewal of permits is down to only 1 day. 

It must be pointed out that “lead time” in the permits issuance is longer than “standard processing time” because the former involves the entire process from the date of receiving the application or request to the time it becomes deliverable to the customer.

The faster time in the issuance of Business Permits was achieved also by the reduction in the number of steps in the application process to just 3 in 2011, compared to 4 in 2010 and to 9 steps in 2005. 

For this speedier issuance of business and other permits, the City Government was recently accorded the highest honor ever given to any local government unit that excelled in implementing such streamlining programs, the Golden Eagle Award National Level awarded by the Central Luzon Growth Corridor Foundation.

Previous to that, in 2009 San Fernando City won the Hall of Fame Award; the Hall of Fame Achievement Award in 2010 and the Golden Eagle Award Regional Level in 2011. All of these citations were from continuous enhancements in the processing and issuance of various permits such as the mayor’s permit and other licenses.

This improved business climate, along with the enhancements in the public services, resulted in the expansion in the City Government’s collection of business and other regulatory fees to over 308.79 million pesos in 2011, or an increase of 14 percent over the 2010 total of 270.64 million pesos. This collection level for 2011 represents a big jump of 167.7 percent from the amount collected in 2005.

The number of visitor arrivals during local cultural events has risen to 260,643 visitors in 2011, up from 256,289 the previous year.

What do these gains mean to the people of San Fernando? The sustained rise in the average household income, which helped the middle class to now account for 59.1 percent of all economic classes in the city, according to an independent survey conducted in 2011. 

These gains are also helping strengthen the sense of pride and place among Fernandinos as we enjoy improved quality of life. There is now greater community participation in disaster mitigation, in environment protection, and in efficient waste management programs, thanks to the direct involvement of the MSGC.

We should not be busy making a living but we should be busy making a life. /MP

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