The World Bank (WB) has urged the Philippines to address three major challenges that would benefit the country from urbanization.
These challenges include density, distance and division. Density refers to the growing population is not matched by key infrastructure investments. Distance is the connectivity issues that would increase transportation cost and impede labor mobility.
Division is the limited access to basic services and economic opportunities especially among informal settlers.
WB has proposed a two-pronged approach to building competitive, sustainable and inclusive cities: In Metro Manila: address critical issues such as congestion, flooding, and slums. In secondary cities: balance spatial development, increase productivity, and create jobs.
WB presented key recommendations in four priority areas – city competitiveness, inclusive urbanization, urban governance and institutions and land administration and management.
To be more competitive, cities should simplify tax regime and business regulations, address infrastructure gridlock, improve access to global markets, strengthen economic local governance and strengthen innovation and address skills mismatch.
To achieve inclusive urbanization, the Philippines should help the urban poor access formal jobs, expand formal sector employment through reinvigoration of manufacturing sector, close the gap in affordable housing and basic service delivery, empower communities and involve them in development process and strengthen institutions that underpin affordable housing especially the local governments.
On urban governance and institutions, the Philippine government should adopt a national urban policy, establish a lead agency for urban development, strengthen institutions and metropolitan governance and strengthen accountability through fiscal decentralization.