Press Release
May 11, 2009

'Sparkplugs of Economic Development'
Villar Emphasizes on LGUs' Role in Enhancing the Country's Competitiveness as an Investment Destination

Nacionalista Party President Senator Manny Villar acknowledges the important role of local government units or LGUs in enhancing the country's competitiveness as an investment destination in proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) 1027 he recently filed.

Villar urges LGUs, which he refers to as "sparkplugs of economic development", to enhance the quality of the business environment in their respective areas by adopting business-friendly policies and measures to open opportunities for trade and investments.

"I am fully aware of the indispensable role that each city or municipality plays in the overall scheme of things as far as the country's development is concerned. LGUs are at the forefront of economic activities that collectively contribute to national growth," said Villar.

The former Senate President added that hand in hand with the private sector, LGUs could truly contribute in turning around the negative effects of the ongoing financial meltdown into positive prospects or opportunities.

PSR 1027 cites LGUs and private firms are well-positioned "to take advantage of the lull in economic activity to consider strengthening their productivity and competitiveness in order that they will be better prepared to compete in the global arena once the economic cycle turns back to more challenging times".

Villar recommends LGUs and the private sector to focus on sunrise industries identified by the National Competitive Council (NCC) where the country has competitive advantages in terms of natural and human resources. These include tourism, information technology, mining, agribusiness, electronics, health and wellness, value-added logistics services and automotive manufacturing.

He added that in order to enhance their areas' competitiveness, LGUs should ensure that business procedures or transactions are done as hassle-free and efficient as possible. In this regard, surveys such as World Bank's 'cost of doing business in the Philippines' serve as a good benchmark.

In the latest report, the World Bank cited that the cost of doing business in the Philippines is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The survey showed that there were 15 different procedures in the Philippines for starting a business that would take an average of 52 days to complete, with costs equivalent to 29.8% of the per capita national gross income. The country also scored two on a scale of one to 10 that assessed the degree of regulatory protection given to investors.

"Foreign investors and businessmen deal directly with LGUs in securing business licenses and permits among others, so whatever image they present of the country are crucial in attracting or turning away investments. In most instances, it is make or break scenario," said Villar, as he pointed out that attracting investments is crucial during the ongoing economic slowdown globally.

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