February 26, 2024

The Cordillera Administrative Region needs a lot of catching up to be more competitive and contribute substantially in the overall competitiveness of the country.

Based on the results of the 2023 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), which ranks as good, better, and best local government unit economies based on five pillars namely economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure, resiliency, and innovation, the Cordillera as a whole needs to improve on transportation services and logistics for goods and services, enhance size and growth of its local economy, its capacity to generate employment, and cost of doing business.

The region also needs to start focusing on research to be more innovative.

By the numbers, Regional Competitiveness Committee (RCC) Chair and Trade and Industry-Cordillera Director Juliet Lucas reported that in 2019, the region has 28 rated LGUs as best in economic dynamism but this decreased in 2023 to 19.

In terms of government efficiency, there were 13 in 2019, 13 in 2020, 21 in 2021, 29 in 2022, but this went down to 24 in 2023.

For infrastructure, there were 12 performers rated as best in 2023 compared to 10 in 2019.

Cordillera also needs to be more resilient as there were eight LGUs ranked as best in 2019, 18 in 2020, 20 in 2021, 22 in 2022, but went down to 14 in 2023.

In terms of innovation, a pillar that was introduced in 2022, there were 14 best performers in 2022 and also in 2023, but those ranked better in 2022 at 29 LGUs went down to 23, and those ranked good at 34 in 2022 went up to 40 LGUs.

“In terms of economic dynamism, Cordillera is backsliding because though some of its provinces are improving, some are not. Even if we do something to improve, other economies are also improving. There is a problem about the rate and how we are doing it, because everybody is doing it fast and more effective. So we can be improving, but other economies are also improving better and they will of course be ranked higher,” she said.

“In terms of government efficiency since 2022, we went down until 2023 and we are also low compared others because the cost of doing infrastructure here is expensive. We cannot even develop airports anymore. It remains to be a weak portion of our competitiveness. And most of our LGUs also have a lot of catching up to do in terms of resiliency,” she added.

Lucas also reported that the region has one of the lowest gross domestic products with 1.69 percent contribution to the national GDP; along with Mimaropa, Caraga and BARRM, which are the lowest performing economies in the country.

Based on the recommendations of validators, Lucas said the region needs to address some things in order to improve its competitiveness level.

She said the Cordillera needs to address transportation services and logistics for goods and services by making it more effective and less costly; enhance size and growth of its local economy, its capacity to generate employment, cost of doing business; and start focusing on research to be more innovative.

Lucas said in their meeting at the RCC, they discussed researches being done by consortiums, academe, agencies and the need for the region to learn using these, where a lot of money is actually being spent.

“The researchers are breaking their heads to be able to come up with good results and recommend something, but are we doing their recommendations? If we put them to good use, we initiate change. That’s what we want to happen but it is all up to the situation, people therein, the environment, the feasibility of businesses in our respective areas,” Lucas said.

She said a competitive economy is one that is productive, has high gross domestic product, leading to growth and if economies are growing there is higher income level and if there is higher income level among people, there is an improved wellbeing, which is desired in the Ambisyon 2040 of the country, which should be sustainable, lasting, forward going, and therefore it should be with consistent growth.

The CMCI can be used as a diagnostic tool by LGU officials to assess the competitiveness of their city or municipality and identify areas for improvement and collaboration.

It can also serve as a guide for investors in deciding where to locate their investments. The CMCI also paints a general picture of Philippine cities and municipalities which may be used researches by start-ups and the academe. – Hanna C. Lacsamana