Given the broader and numerous concerns of the City Development Plan, this administration would like to focus on the following specific concerns, in accordance with our priority development framework namely:
Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals particularly on the following social development concerns:
- Reduction of the Poverty Incidence. The city’s poverty incidence based on the MBN survey of 2009 is around 39.5%. This is higher than the national average of about 35%. Although the complete eradication of poverty remain a long-term national goal and has only been reduced by less than five (5) percentage points from 2004 (42.8% poverty incidence), the present administration remain optimistic with intensive agricultural development and livelihood programs to contribute in the reduction of poverty incidence by 5% in the next three (3) years.
- Strengthen Delivery of Health and Nutrition Services. Although most of the basic health indicators for 2009 i.e. percentage of children below normal weight, morbidity rate, crude death rate, infant mortality rate and children mortality rate, remain below the national average and within the acceptable LGU performance benchmarks, the challenge remain in sustaining them and even attaining the ideal zero incidence for such indicators. What is immediate is the need to bring down the maternal mortality rate which is at 1.0 to 1.5 per 1,000 live births, considered relatively high by national standards which registered an average of 0.7 to 0.9 per 1,000 live births for the same year.
- Enhance Access to Basic Education and Intensify Programs for Human Resource Development. The performance indicators in education show that the most glaring under performance is the low participation rate in the elementary level at only 81.31% during the current school year 2009-2010. This is way below the national performance benchmark of between 92%-94%. Another important concern that the city needs to address is the low completion rate in tertiary level for both formal and technical-vocational education at less than 25% in the preceding school year which is way below the national performance benchmark of between 50% to 75%. Thus on top of this administration’s agenda is providing improved access to educational facilities and providing security of tenure to school facilities by acquiring school sites. Tech-voc and skills training programs shall also be sustained and expanded.
- Enhance Socialized and Other Mass Housing Programs. Although most of the basic housing indicators like ownership status, access to potable water, household with sanitary toilets, and percentage of informal settlers are still considered relatively at par with the national benchmarks, still and all, 2% of the city’s households continue to live in makeshift dwelling units. Compounding the problem is that most of these households are residing in areas considered as danger zones like foreshore lands, river banks and critical slopes.
Implementation of programs and projects to catalyze dynamic economic development activities particularly on the following areas:
- Increase in Agricultural Productivity. Although existing crop yields remain within the average benchmark for national production, the city continues to be short of its target for self-sufficiency in food production. In line with this, the focus will on farm lands development like provision of irrigation systems in the remaining more than 1,400 has. of rain-fed lands and the enhancement of existing initiatives towards farm mechanization.
- Industrial Development and Commercialization. The city’s comparative advantage lies in its large quantities of mineral deposits and the richness of its marine fishing grounds. However, investments in these areas remain on the level where it failed to make substantial processing of raw materials and product value adding to create greater opportunities for employment. The city’s unemployment rate continues to hover at around 10%, which is way above the national benchmark of 7%. Thus, among the priorities identified in this regard is the need to bring back national attention and focus on the long moribund Nonoc Nickel Refinery Project and Special Economic Zone. On a parallel move, aqua/marine-culture and promotion of investments in fish and marine products processing should also be intensified to enhance income levels in the fishery sector and promote further the fledgling development of the city’s one town one product (OTOP) specialization.
- Tourism Development & Promotions. Given the numerous scenic attractions in the locality and the city’s strategic position as the gateway and service center to the now popular eco-tourism and surfing destination of Siargao & Bucas Grande Islands in the province, the city needs to push further on image-building campaign and investments on tourism support infrastructure and urban services. Development, packaging and promotion of the city as a destination and service center should be the given due impetus through renewed public-private partnership and community mobilization.
To complete the tripartite balance in local development efforts constitute the need to address environmental concerns. The city’s effort should be directed towards the proper and sound management of the urban ecosystem, forest ecosystem, freshwater and marine ecosystem. Specific concerns are the following:
- Solid Waste Management. Although initial efforts were already undertaken to establish a solid waste management system in the locality in accordance with internationally accepted standards and the provisions of R.A. 9003, still, the present level of solid waste management is short of adopting the basic tenets of waste reduction and source segregation. The city’s Sanitary Landfill also remained to be fully operated so that the present controlled dumpsite will be closed and fully rehabilitated. Fees down to the residential households will have to be imposed so that landfill operations will be cost-effective or self-liquidating.
- Forest and Coastal Marine Ecosystems Conservation, Protection and Rehabilitation.Although the present state of the city’s forest and coastal marine ecosystems may not have reached critical levels of concern, but still the existence of certain illegal activities and environmentally critical practices even within the city’s watershed warrant the same to be placed among the present administration’s priorities. Strengthening of present inter-agency cooperation, community mobilization, information and education campaigns shall be relentlessly pursued, expanded and given more emphasis with corresponding local legislations augmenting existing legal framework in the national level.
- Integration of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Local Plans and Policies. Given recent events rendering several LGU’s and even the national government ill-equipped to manage and respond effectively to national calamities and disasters, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation shall be incorporated in the city’s development plan, the land use plan and zoning ordinance, and other related governance policies of the LGU. Identification and inventory of potential risks and risk areas, assessment, mitigation and/or rehabilitation shall be pursued.
As previously stated, physical development shall cut across the main tri-sectoral development concerns to provide the necessary infrastructure backbone to support the strategic requirements for development. Foremost among this administration’s development priorities for infrastructure shall be on the following:
- Production Support Infrastructure. Provision of rural infrastructure for farming and product distribution support particularly irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, and other post-harvest facilities.
- Social-Related Infrastructure. Provision of school buildings including acquisition and development of school sites, health facilities, welfare facilities and day-care centers, sites and services support for settlements development.
- Transport & Mobility Support Infrastructure. Continuing improvement and provision of all-weather roads and bridges especially the key arterial roads connecting the urban center. Upgrading of port facilities especially the city airport and dilapidated seaports in the island barangays, and development of a basin for small watercraft at the urban area.
- Utilities Development. Improvement of barangay water systems to Level III and development of alternative energy sources in off-grid island barangays.
- Urban Infrastructure. Although most of the basic urban infrastructure support are already in place and in relatively good shape, priority development concern focus on the need to further improve the drainage system, clearing and repaving of sidewalks especially in the central business district, full development of the city boulevard, and development additional parks and open spaces.
GOVERNANCE & FISCAL REFORMS
It is fortunate that the city was chosen as among the USAID-supported cities in the country to implement programs on transparent accountable governance in the last nine (9) years, paving the way for the adoption of certain procedural reforms in front line LGU services. However, further improvement has to be implemented in the following areas:
- Business Permits and Licensing System. Further streamlining has to be implemented to standardize procedures, unify application documents with other agencies in accordance with the national government’s pronouncement to make doing business fast and easy. Moreover, the city will also push for the establishment and operation of a Business Permits and Licensing Office with the end in view of creating a sole responsible office to handle processing and monitor regulatory compliance.
- Fiscal Administration. Looking back at some of the financial performance indicators of the city in the previous year of 2009 in the local governance performance management system (LGPMS) showed that the city is still 77% dependent on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). This is high compared to the national average for cities of the same income class which is only at 68%. The city’s locally sourced revenue which in 2009 totaled P98.2 million and together with IRA represented 87% of its regular income also falls short below the national average for cities of the same class which is P131 million and 96% respectively. Local revenues per capita is also below national figures at only P732.12 for the city compared to P999.99 as the national average.
Thus, it is the interest of the present administration to improve fiscal performance by at least leveling at par or better than the national performance benchmarks. Certain fiscal reforms and policies shall be pursued which among others will include the exhaustion of civil and legal remedies to collect the delinquencies in business and real property taxes. Improvements will also have to be pursued in economic enterprise management aimed at enhancing profit margins and intensive tax collection campaign which may include the examination of taxpayers’ books of accounts.