Province drops from 3rd in 2015 to 45th in 2017
Cebu suffered a steep drop in its competitive ranking.
From 3rd in 2015 and 31st in 2016, Cebu slipped to number 45 among the most competitive provinces in the country, next only to Abra.
Bohol did better than Cebu in the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMI) recently released by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).
Bohol placed 23rd with a score of 34.4308, higher than Cebu’s 32.7467. No Visayan province made it in the top 10.
While Cebu’s ranking may have slid, a Capitol official maintained that Cebu had more to offer than what the indicators showed.
Roy Soledad, head of the Cebu Investment and Promotions Office (CIPO), said the influx of investments in the province would be affected if the pillars used in the CMI were the only ones considered by the investors.
“However, it would be better if they also looked at the kind of opportunities anywhere within Cebu can give in terms of access, ease of doing business, and not just the scoring,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview on Monday.
Among the opportunities Soledad cited was the plan to establish 17 new economic zones in the countryside, which was considered a huge step toward attracting more investors to the province.
Provincial rankings are dependent on the overall scores of the cities and municipalities under a province although income and population are also factored in.
Meanwhile, rankings of cities and municipalities are based on the sum of their scores on four pillars: economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure, and resiliency.
Competitive means the local government unit (LGU) has the capacity to keep up with the demands of both national and international markets.
The NCC Competitive Index was first introduced in 2014 and was limited only to more than 6,000 cities and municipalities of the Philippines.
The scope was expanded to more than 500 provinces in 2015.
In 2015, Cebu ranked 3rd with a score of 36.6541. The ranking dropped to 31st after Cebu got a score of 24.5965.
Although Cebu scored higher this year with 32.7467, it was not enough to pull up its ranking that was topped by Rizal province.
Cebu City ranked 9th among the most competitive city in the country with a score of 45.0391, but the ranking was still lower compared to last year’s 6th place.
But Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III was not bothered by the results, saying the drop in Cebu’s ranking may be due to the additional criterion that made it harder to get a higher score.
“That’s why I really don’t think the results (reflect) the performance of each LGU in Cebu province,” he added.
Last year, there were only three criteria set by the NCC: economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure.
For 2017, another criterion was added — resiliency — which meant a longer checklist for the towns and cities.
“Maybe, our municipalities and cities under the province are not yet ready especially with the new criterion they set for this year,” explained Soledad, Cebu Investment and Promotions Office head.
The Cebu provincial government launched earlier this year the Provincial Competitiveness Challenge to prepare local governments for the index, with the Capitol encouraging LGUs to undertake measures seen to improve their standing such as coming up with incentive codes and easing business processes.
“But I think we will have a hard time improving it. We can only do so much, but we can never bring back our previous ranking,” he said.
Soledad said the province had no intervention in its own score since the score was only the sum of the scores of the LGUs under it.
Rizal province, which has consistently topped the index, only has 17 municipalities and cities classified as first and second class, while Cebu has 51 LGUs with most of it classified as 3rd to 5th class.
Only 200 LGUs participated in 2015 when Cebu ranked 3rd. The number increased to more than 500 in 2016 and more than 700 in 2017.
“Competition-wise, it is very strict. That is why we have to strategize more and not rely so much on the scoring system but highlight the opportunities we have in Cebu,” said Soledad.
Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said she believes more can be done by the province’s LGUs to address concerns to improve the way business is done.
“Hand in hand, we are very willing to work with our local governments in working out ways to improve our competitive index and improving our ranking,” the chamber president said.
CCCI has more than 800 members based mostly in Metro Cebu. The chamber also has chapters in Naga City and Bantayan Island.
Ng said it would also be prudent to try to understand what factors had affected the province’s standing this year in order to find ways to address them.
For Cebu Business Club President Gordon Alan Joseph, this decline in ranking was expected, given the urban problems the province, most especially the bigger metropolitan area, was facing.
“What the cities and municipalities need to do is to collaborate to solve trans-boundary issues with the help of experts in solving these problems,” he said.
Joseph said Mega Cebu has been working to build a “spirit in collaboration” to solve these urbanization problems with the help of recognized experts in their fields who do not subscribe to “political” solutions to problems that require sound technical solutions.
Mega Cebu is a platform that envisions sustainable economic growth in Metro Cebu until 2050.
The consortium was originally made up of 13 cities and municipalities located on the eastern side of Cebu island, including the cities of Carcar, Naga, Talisay, Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Danao as well as the municipalities of San Fernando, Minglanilla, Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña backed out of the initiative in 2016.
The platform also includes regional lines agencies as well as private and civil society organizations.