‘Region 6 is fastest growing region in Visayas’

The economy of Western Visayas or Region 6 grew by 6.4 percent in 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recently reported.

The region’s economy, based on the PSA report, is faster than Central Visayas or Region 7 which grew by 5.9 percent, and Eastern Visayas or Region 8 which improved by 5.3 percent.

Marlene Alviar, PSA-6 regional director, said that the 6.4 percent growth rate of Western Visayas was higher in 2018 with 4.8 percent.

The total goods and services generated by Western Visayas were contributed by the growth in the agriculture and fishery sector at 0.1 percent, the industry sector at 1.3 percent, and the services sector at 5.0 percent, the PSA report said.

The services sector, which accounted for 62.1 percent of the economy of the region, grew by 8.2 percent in 2019, it said.

The top contributor to the growth in the services sector was accommodation and food service activities as it grew by 31.4 percent, a significant increase compared to the previous year with -10.5 percent, it added.

Among the sub-industries with faster growth include financial and insurance activities with 16.3 percent and transportation and storage with a growth rate of 10.7 percent.

The industry sector, which covers a 21 percent share in the regional economy, however, decreased to 6.2 percent in 2019 from 7 percent in 2018.

Mining and quarrying, the main contributor to the industry sector, posted 23.5 percent growth, while electricity, steam, water, and waste management also accelerated to 5.3 percent from 4.8 percent in 2018, PSA said.

Meanwhile, manufacturing slowed down to 5.5 percent in 2019 from 8.5 percent in the previous year, while construction declined by -0.7 percent from 10 percent in the previous year.

The economy of Western Visayas was valued at P915.3 billion, making the region the fourth largest economy outside the National Capital Region, Ro-Ann Bacal, regional director of National Economic and Development Authority-6, said.

“The significant decrease in the inflation rate of 2.4 percent in 2019 from 5.9 percent in 2018 contributed to the gross regional domestic product growth given the steadier prices of goods and raw materials,” she said.

She added, “since most of our poor families are considered food poor, the decrease in prices of food, which was 69.51 percent of the total inflation rate for the year compared to the previous year, made food more accessible to people and their families.”

While the region is slowly gaining from the negative 0.4 growth in 2018 to a positive 0.5 percent growth in 2019 for its agriculture and fishery, Bacal said there is a need to enhance support for the sector to further increase production and productivity through mechanization and motivating the young to venture into agri-business, including production and processing of value-added products, especially those that have export potentials.

For the services sector, the challenge is how to sustain the growth, expand economic opportunities, and increase the potential of the region’s workforce especially for the millennials, Bacal said.

The transport and storage subsector showed great potentials to grow rapidly, with the proposed and pipeline improvements in airports and seaports to cater to more flights and roll-on, roll-off vessel trips as new tourist destinations in the region were being developed, she said.

Bacal said economic managers have recommended to cautiously open up the economy further.

Managing risks, instead of totally avoiding them, will allow more of the economy to safely open and help Filipinos recover their sources of income, she said, adding this will also put the Philippines back on its solid growth and development trajectory.*MPE