Paradigm Shift

By Manny Villar
Manila Bulletin Online

A highly centralized structure of government tends to discourage those in charge at the local level from initiating the generation of alternative revenues.

The present practice is for local governments to depend on Manila for funding in support of locally conceived projects. Their share of taxes collected is not immediately released to them by the central government. This is counterproductive. It is a major stumbling block to national development.

A paradigm shift is necessary. Not a drastic change in the centralized structure that may take too much time, but a change in attitude by local executives in their relations with those in control of disbursements from the national coffers.

Perhaps local executives should revisit their term of reference through a marketing perspective. They should identify the unique selling point of their respective areas of responsibility.

A checklist is useful. How is the natural resource profile? What is the potential for tourism? Is there a presence of mineral deposits? What is the state of agricultural productivity? What industries exist? How organized are the NGOs? What credit facilities are available? How is the climate for the development of entrepreneurs?

In short, a province, city or municipality, singly or collectively, should try to be positioned as an investment destination and a bankable position.

Positioning is premised on credibility. It is false to claim that a particular city is a good place to set up an enterprise when the whole city government is not really business-friendly.

There is no business-friendliness when it is too inconvenient for a lot buyer to pay his realty tax. When the registration of new business enterprises is too tedious, there is no sense of genuine service at all.

When the officials and employees of a local government unit look at present and future taxpayers as customers whose goodwill and patronage they should earn and maintain, there will be a radical improvement in the quality of their service.

In business-friendly and customer-oriented local governance, there is no room for discourtesy and inefficiency. And when such a highly positive mindset gets to be pervasive, service always comes with a genuine smile.

However, no law or executive order can compel a change in attitude. The transformation begins in the heart.