Minda cities gear up to attract more and better investments

The cities of Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, and Butuan are formulating plans to attract more and better investments in their areas.
Representatives from these cities, as well as the regional offices of national government agencies, the private sector, and academe participated in a planning workshop conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to train local government units (LGUs) in strategic development planning to increase their competitiveness and therefore attract increased investments.
Increased investments will, in turn, create more economic activities and therefore raise standards of living and reduce incidence of poverty.
The workshop, which was held during the City Competitiveness Forum 2011 on December 14 at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City, was supported by the LINC-EG Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which aims to increase the competitiveness of LGUs, especially in Mindanao.
The workshop consisted of discussions on the factors that make cities competitive and on the planning framework for increasing the competitiveness of LGUs in the country.
After the discussions, the participants, grouped themselves according to the cities  they belong, assessed whether or not the current programs and projects of their respective LGUs help increase the cities’ competitiveness and attractiveness to local and foreign investments.
These assessments, which were based on feedback from the representatives of the business sector and the academe, were then used to recommend revisions to the designs of the programs and projects.  The results of the assessments will be given to the respective city mayors for consideration.
The more important of the recommendations are conducting more consultations with the business community to ensure that the incentives provided them for investing actually respond to their needs; providing for incentives that would actually channel investments to where these are most needed; and ensuring that the infrastructure facilities that are needed by investors are available and at competitive costs.
Also recommended were the identification of a few sectors where the cities are most competitive in and the full development of these sectors, as well as the review of the city investment codes and comprehensive development plans, all of which have remained unchanged for several years.
Among the recommendations for Davao City was the review and updating of the city’s Incentives Code which was promulgated in 1994, and Comprehensive Development Plan which was last updated in 1996.
The results of the review of the city development plan will be used as basis for the updating of the city zoning ordinances.  Moreover, initial plans for the development of the city’s tourism sector were formulated.
Among the activities that would be undertaken to develop the sector are the identification, packaging, and promotion of historical sites and wellness establishments that would serve to attract tourists into the city, as well as the obtaining of direct flights from Japan to the city.
In the case of General Santos City, the following strategies to enhance the city’s competitiveness were recommended: (1) the resolution, through extra-judicial settlement, of the right-of-way problems of the Circumferential Road and Food-Transport Terminal project; (2) the conduct of negotiations with neighboring towns for the use of a sanitary landfill for the city’s residual wastes; (3) the formulation and execution of an integrated household waste disposal education program; and (4) the computerization of city’s operations in a new investment promotion center by 2012.  [PR]