4 lawmakers to back Metro Cebu Development Authority-A A +A
Monday, March 17, 2014
FOUR Metro Cebu congressmen said on Monday they were willing to sponsor a bill to convert the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) into the Metro Cebu Development Authority (MCDA).
They made the pledge in a meeting where MCDCB co-chair Roberto Aboitiz told the legislators about the group’s plans for projects that would make Cebu a more attractive place to live, work and do business in.
One of the four, Representative Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north), appealed to the MCDCB to help persuade local officials and other congressional representatives from Cebu to support the bill.
“This is what we are asking you (MCDCB officials): please get the firm commitment, conformity and approval of all the mayors, the governor and all of us congressmen,” said del Mar.
He said he has filed bills to create the MCDA at least thrice, the first time being 20 years ago, but Congress did not approve the creation of body, which would have been similar to the Metro Manila Development Authority.
Apart from del Mar, present at the meeting were Representatives Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, south), Joseph “Ace” Durano (Cebu Province, fifth district) and Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas (Cebu Province, first district).
“Metropolitan management” has been identified as one of the MCDCB’s development strategies to address traffic, waste management, poverty and other challenges in making Cebu more livable, more competitive and more sustainable. The MCDCB has received support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency in working on its Mega Cebu 2050 vision.
Part of the goal is “to project to the region and to the world a brand of being a serious contender for direct investments that relate to jobs, which is one of our greatest solutions to the inequality of wealth,” Aboitiz said in Monday’s meeting.
Del Mar said that as officials in government, they admit the government is not as efficient as the private sector.
“That’s why we appreciate your involvement here in MCDCB and this is something that we really need. We’re glad that you’re in there,” del Mar.
When Abellanosa asked about the composition of Metro Cebu in the MCDCB’s plans, Evelyn Nacario of MCDCB and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. confirmed that 13 local government units, including the Province of Cebu, are covered.
“Please be the ones to get the approval of each and every congressman and local government official to agree to it before we file it, otherwise we will be just be wasting time filing it,” del Mar suggested.
He said the group should consider why his bills to create the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) and Cebu Port Authority (CPA) survived Congress, but the MCDA proposal did not.
“Now, why did we not get it done unlike MCIAA and CPA? Because there was no meeting of the minds on this Metro Cebu Development Authority. As we crossed the borders of the local government units, it became harder to do because unanimity is already difficult among the congressmen,” del Mar said.
He recalled that when he first filed the MCDA bill, some congressmen opposed it. In the next Congress, they were not there anymore, but then some local government officials opposed the bill, del Mar said.
“That’s why we appreciate your being there (in MCDCB). If you leave it to us to do this again we will see the same predicament. So, we’re asking you to get other congressmen and local officials to agree to it before we file it,” he added.
Gullas said he fully agrees that district representatives should coordinate with the private sector for a better Cebu. This is his first term as congressman.
Durano, for his part, said that in going over the list of projects the MCDCB is proposing, he noticed that most of these have no funding sources yet.
The former tourism secretary, who has served previously as his district’s congressman, said some of these projects may not match the budget priorities of national government agencies.
In the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), he said, everything starts in the engineering district level; from that level, the regional office merely consolidates proposed projects and budgets, then brings these up to the head office.
“So, I think that for better success next time in the inclusion of these projects, it’s important to bring in the engineering districts from the beginning. Most of these projects cut across engineering districts and will need coordination among the different officials,” Durano said.
During the meeting, Engineer Fortunato Sanchez Jr. presented the results of a survey of 500 cities worldwide, where Cebu was ranked 475; lower than the ranking of some African cities and the second and third cities of Indonesia.
Sanchez chairs the MCDCB subcommittee on utilities.
He reported that over the previous year in that survey’s ranking, Cebu dropped by 10 notches despite the fact that it has a higher per capita gross domestic product compared to the other cities that fared better in the survey.
Sanchez also said that in a recent World Economic Forum ranking of countries, the top three reasons Cebu lagged behind others are an inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequate supply of infrastructure, and corruption.
He said that over the past five years, Cebu has done very well in overall rankings in competitiveness, rising from 87th to 59th. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 18, 2014.