LEGAZPI CITY — An ordinance that would provide for incentives to new tourism industry investments in this city serving as Bicol’s tourism center is now being pushed for enactment by the local legislative council.
Among the salient provisions of the proposed ordinance is the grant of business tax payment exemption to newly registered tourism enterprises while its owners will also be free from paying basic realty taxes on property improvements, building and machineries — both for the period of two years.
It shall also mandate the city’s Business Permits and Licensing Division (BPLD) to give assistance in identifying business locations and in securing local permits and licenses for investors who want to engage in business in this city.
“We are offering these to attract more investors that would help us further improve our existing tourist facilities and attractions,” City Mayor Noel Rosal on Sunday told the Philippine News Agency.
This strategy, he explained, is based on the city government’s vision that promotes inclusive economic growth and sustainable development through effective and efficient services strengthened by the active participation of all stakeholders within a safe business environment.
Having more investors coming in will in the long run help improve the city’s revenue collection, sustain its economic growth, increase the value of local products, promote a sustainable tourism industry and generate more jobs for the local workforce, Rosal said.
“We also welcome public-private partnership—a development scheme between the city government and these prospective investors that we are strengthening,” he said.
The proposed Tourism Investment Incentive Ordinance was drafted by members of the Vision Aligned Circle (VAC 7), a planning unit organized by Rosal under its Performance Governance System (PGS) that it has institutionalized as a participatory process in line with the principles and best practices of good governance and responsible citizenship.
“We have been working on PGS since January 2008 and the continuing activities that included the creation of the VAC and Office of Strategy Management (OSM) as well as the formation of the city’s Multi-Sectoral Governance Coalition (MSGC) that have been actively initiating collaborative moves, which brought us to the PGS Compliance Status last year,” he said.
Such status won for the city government the most coveted Silver Governance Trailblazer (SGT) award for excellence in local governance given by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) during fitting ceremonies in Manila last Oct. 21.
The city government garnered a score higher than 8.5 in the public revalida or performance report in accomplishing the compliance stage in ISA’s program for institutionalizing its PGS– thus, the SGT award that made it the only winner among the country’s local government units (LGUs) last year.
ISA is a non-government organization that develops and promotes the PGS as a management tool by way of requiring LGUs and national agencies, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to implement a series of reforms that fundamentally would transform its policy-making process and bureaucratic structure to proficiency.
Such accomplishment, which over years generally raised the city’s inclusive growth and development through effective local governance, was focused, among others, on local tourism developments highlighted by the campaign to capture a slot in Luzon’s five top convention destinations by 2020.
In tourism, the city received a total of 579,470 domestic and foreign tourists, representing a whopping increase of 32.6 percent from the previous year’s 141,370 arrivals which placed this premier Bicol metropolis, now known in the international travel world as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” in the 14th slot among the country’s best tourist destinations.
Last year, as the city worked on improving its rank to the country’s 10 best tourist destinations, it achieved another milestone in tourism development by receiving over 700,000 tourists for a 24-percent growth rate over 2013 and bringing it closer to hitting the targeted one-million mark by 2016.
“After all these accomplishments, including the achievement of the PGS compliance stage, our goal this year is to advance to the Island of Good Governance (IGG), a status awarded to local government units (LGUs) as well as other government institutions that have shown exemplary performance in terms of governance practices and transformation.
Advancing to IGG may win for the city government the ISA-NCC Gold Standard Award representing a test or measure of comparison that is considered ultimate or ideal.
With sustained commitment, he said, the city is closing in on institutional transformation as it levels up to the next phase of PGS—proficiency.
“An LGU, which is considered as economic spark plug where inclusive growth strategy needs to be specific with good governance, providing the edge can only be eligible for IGG if it is at least PGS proficient,” Rosal stressed, adding that the city as of today is on the right track towards it.
To qualify, the LGU should show proof that it has put in place the essentials of a good governance program that has already yielded substantial results by way of transformative breakthroughs that include a strategy map, performance scorecard, a working multi-sectoral governance coalition, an office for strategy management and a series of actual breakthrough results.
The award of IGG compliance status this year in now being processed by the ISA which took off with its pre-audit last January, followed by the third party audit starting this month.
Arriving at this status, he added, “is easy for us now that we have in place our PGS measured by integrity—as our actions and decisions are guided by the highest ethical standards; common good — as we selflessly uphold the general welfare of all; commitment– because we fulfill our mandate with perseverance, compassion and flexibility; and competence– since we continuously upgrade our knowledge and skills in order to provide excellence service.”