Ernesto M. Pernia, PhD

Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning

Southeast Asia (SEA) Planning Community of Practice 3rd Technical Workshop

Alignment and Coordination of National and Subnational Planning Part II

Henann Resort, Panglao, Bohol

December 10-12, 2019


Honorable Delegates from our fellow ASEAN states – Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – incidentally, we are currently having a wonderful time hosting the 30th SEA Games thanks to the sportsmanship and fellowship of our ASEAN brethren. I included fellowship because the battlecry of the SEA Games is “We win as one!”;

Our partners from the World Bank;

Coworkers in government – both in central and regional offices;

A pleasant good morning to everyone here.

On behalf of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippines, it is with great pleasure to once again host and welcome you to the Third Technical Workshop of this year’s Planning Community of Practice.

This workshop delves deeper into the Alignment and Coordination of National and Subnational Planning. This workshop takes off from the previous conference held in Manila this year where we shared our experiences and talked about issues and challenges in ensuring vertical coherence in national and sub-national planning. Given the crucial role of spatial planning, the current leg of the workshop will put emphasis on the institutional aspects of national and sub-national coordination and alignment.

This topic is particularly interesting and relevant to us in NEDA as legislative bills are now being deliberated at the Lower and Upper Houses of Congress to strengthen our planning institutions – especially for NEDA in particular– towards instilling a culture of planning at all levels of government across the country’s regions. We are relentless in pushing for changes in the way we conduct our development policies, in changing the seemingly ingrained passive bureaucratic culture into a proactive one.

We know that by instilling a culture of planning in government, we should then be able to then encourage a culture of growth, development, and even of innovation within our ranks. And to reiterate the point of the The Economist article that I have recently come across, “A society’s values and beliefs matter for its economy”. Previous thinking about economics is that culture doesn’t matter, but the more recent thinking now is that culture does matter to economic growth and development of a society.  Thus, we are looking forward to gaining insights and lessons from you that will help us craft a truly useful law that will help make development plans coherent, holistic, integrated, and future-oriented.

One of the primary objectives of every nation is to promote the general welfare of its people and pursue sustainable development and inclusive growth that promotes quality of life for everyone. Devolving central government functions to local jurisdictions is deemed instrumental in ensuring comprehensive coverage and efficient delivery of public service to our people.  However, the key challenge for countries with this type of arrangement is to ensure that the institutional arrangements for coordination are properly facilitated and timely monitored.

The Philippines, being an archipelagic country, has 17 administrative regions. Our local governments are entrusted with a large number of complex tasks ranging from providing social services, healthcare and education, and agricultural services to addressing housing, planning and building issues, and environmental protection. This makes it a challenge to build robust coordination mechanisms and ensure coherence and alignment among national, regional and local plans, policies and programs.

For this reason, NEDA and the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01 in November 2018, which provides the guidelines on the localization of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 Results Matrices and the Sustainable Development Goals or the SDGs.

Through this, localization activities were conducted to facilitate national-local convergence, complementation, and harmonization of priorities and programs, to achieve the targets under the PDP and the SDGs.  Provincial results matrices were also formulated to enjoin provinces to commit their contributions in the attainment of the PDP, the regional development plans, and the SDG targets.

Another important reason why this is such an important topic for us here in the Philippines is that more and more resources are being allocated to our local government units (LGUs). A recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court regarding the computation of the shares of LGUs in national revenues implies that the share of transfers to LGUs to total National Government expenditures will rise to about 24 percent by 2022 from about 17 percent in 2018.

Today, we gather a number of government professionals, planning practitioners and resource persons for this two-day workshop, I am confident that we will have insightful discussions ahead. I hope that this workshop will become an avenue for everyone to share their experiences and best practices, which will help in further building capacity to strengthen national and sub-national development planning in the Southeast Asian region.

Thank you very much, and once again, welcome, or as the Boholanos would say; “Maayong pag-abot sa ato-ang mga bisita” – Happy arrival and stay to our guests and visitors.