Traders, NGOs cite fruits of tripartite coordination in local governance

Dolores Corro, MinCODE executive director, said The Asia Foundation's (TAF) Transparent Accountable Governance (TAG) project provided them a venue to collaborate, veering away from their combative treatment in the past.

Corro said there was mutual animosity before owing to negative perceptions.

She said there were notable improvements in specific reform agendas collectively pursued by the three sectors at the local level.

Corro said the openness of the local chief executive and the other officials, are key to the success of the project.

Since 2002, TAF has been working with the MinBC, MinCODE, and the League of Cities in the Philippines, for TAG in the cities of Butuan, Cotabatom, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan,

Island Garden City of Samal, Koronadal, Malaybalay, Marawi, Oroquieta, Ozamis, Panabo, Surigao, Tacurong, and Zamboanga.

The project provided technical assistance to participating cities' efforts to increase efficiency, build capacity for economic reform, and streamline local government services.

TAG cited at least six outcomes in the project's five-year run based on the different chosen reform agenda of the local government unit.

The outcomes include shorter time for the issuance of a Mayor's Permit, from seven days to half a day; increased issuance of the permit by 35 percent, increased tax collection by up 40 percent; improved collection efficiency of real property taxes up to 60 percent; reduced actual expenditures on procurement of drugs and medicines by 350 percent and medical supplies by 270 percent.

TAF country director Steven Rood told MindaNews that the target is for LGUs to sustain economic growth and not just rely on internal revenue allotment.

He said they are ready to readjust governance standards by making available the lessons learned from other LGUs.

Surigao City mayor Alfonso Casurra told a press conference Friday afternoon that they were able to improve tax collection in his city cut the cost of collecting a . He said they were able to cut cost to collect a P1.00 tax from P1.78 to P0.68.

Vicente Lao, MinBC chair, told MindaNews TAG facilitated turnarounds in key functions of the local government, which helped encourage investments due to the favorable business environment.

He said more transparent and efficient LGUs invite more investments.

He said they will work to expand the lessons learned from the 16 LGUs to the rest of the cities in Mindanao. TAF announced two more years of the project in Mindanao.

LCP and TAF also sounded off they are likely to use the experiences in Mindanao when they expand to Luzon and the Visayas starting this year.

Rood said it was easy to start the project in Mindanao, with the presence of Mindanao-wide mechanisms such as the MinBC and MinCODE.

He said they have more difficulty, however, in institutionalizing changes in cities in poorer provinces.

Corro said the lessons learned from the project, especially the provision of a venue for tripartite interaction, should be shared also with other local governments, including towns and provinces.

The officials were in Davao for a two-day conference where program milestones were evaluated and best practices were shared among the participating cities. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)