As delivered-


OIC-Regional Director, NEDA-VI

delivered by: Ms. Marian Therese M. Pamonag
OIC-Chief Economic Development Specialist, NEDA-VI

News Conference on the Performance of the Western Visayas Economy for CY 2022
District 21 Hote, Diversion Road, Iloilo City
27 April 2023    |     10:00AM

Philippine Statistics Authority OIC-Director Nelida C. Amolar,
colleagues from the Philippine Statistics Authority,
co-workers in government,
development partners,
media partners,

A pleasant morning!

A shift in paradigm on how people treat COVID-19, from pandemic to endemic, led to the measured reopening of the economy and to the people’s resumption of pre-pandemic activities.

The said reopening and resumption were guided by government’s three-pillar strategy to strong recovery that includes accelerating the vaccination roll–out, safely reopening the economy, while strictly adhering to health protocols, and fully implementing the recovery program.

During the first quarter of 2022, however, the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalated and affected the prices of energy, fertilizer and cereal and triggered an internationally synchronous monetary tightening policy. Further, supply chain bottlenecks disrupted commodity markets and international trade (World Bank, 2022). All these created a domino effect down to our local economy that upset the price of utilities and transportation, increased the price of importation, and depreciated the peso. Similarly, the fare increases and wage hikes that year did not help improve growth figures.

On the upside what helped the region stay on the growth track despite the external headwinds were the public infrastructure investment programs that fueled construction and industry growth, including the reconstruction efforts on damages caused by previous typhoons. These efforts helped to provide employment to the sector.

The year 2022 was also an election year where campaign activities led by both national and local candidates and their supporters’ spurred events and drove spending upwards. Further, face to face classes gained traction and the same was in full swing by the year’s end.

Soon after the induction into office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on September 12, 2022, the President issued Executive Order No. 3, that allowed the voluntary wearing of facemasks in outdoor settings. This provided the impetus for a less stringent conduct of day-to-day activities and transactions that in turn buoyed investor confidence.

By the third and fourth quarter of 2022, domestic and foreign tourism were gaining ground, consumer spending was at a high level likely due to pent-up demand and “revenge” and holiday spending, new businesses were opening and, on the average, labor market conditions were improving as people were getting employed. Consequently, these resulted to an uptrend in inflation.

Likewise, challenges in the agriculture sector, partly due to climate change and partly due to lower food production because of the African Swine Fever and avian influenza, resulted to the increase in the price of some basic agricultural products that, likewise, contributed to driving inflation figures higher.

The social sector, on the other hand, generally fared well. However, attention must be given to increasing the number of facility-based deliveries and births attended by skilled health personnel and, in the process, help improve the maternal mortality ratio of the region. The region should also give importance to ensuring that children are fully-immunized so that mortality ratios of children are kept low.

The Western Visayas 2022 GRDP figure of 9.3 show that we have hugely exceeded the growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent that we have set for 2022.

We are very much pleased to note that the Western Visayas economy is robust. However, we must not rest on our achievements. The government continues to intensify its efforts to restore the economy to its high-growth trajectory, creating more and better-quality jobs and speeding up poverty reduction. To strengthen government measures, the following were put in place primarily to protect the purchasing power of the Filipinos and ensure food production and security:

  1. Reduction of tariffs on various products, extension until December 31, 2023 of the reduced import rat duties on key commodities – pork, rice, corn and coal – to help provide diversified sources of food and agricultural inputs in the short term;
  2. Reduction of transport and logistics cost and subsidy to the transport sector through DOTr’s Libreng Sakay;
  3. Implementation of subsidy programs, such as, but not limited to the following: Conditional cash transfers (CCTs), social pensions, aid to individuals in crisis situations (AICS), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program(4Ps), emergency employment, and cash for work;
  4. Expansion of social support programs and targeted instead of blanket social assistance measures;
  5. Improvement of local production that includes, among others, subsidy to local farmers and provision of farm machinery and equipment;
  6. Facilitation of an accessible food supply chain, effective public spending in the agriculture sector, addressing low agricultural productivity, increasing infrastructure for agriculture, modernizing agriculture and agri-business through farm mechanization, research and development, and enhancing inter-industry linkages to create and diversify higher value products;
  7. Prioritization of the creation and adoption of climate and disaster-resilient technologies, alongside the development and mainstreaming of early warning systems and anticipatory mechanisms that are imperative if we are to achieve and sustain gains in the agriculture and fishery sector;
  8. Special focus on energy and water sector; and
  9. Showcasing the Philippines as a prime investment destination in the ASEAN region.

The National Economic and Development Authority also has the following thrusts and priorities in the near term:

  1. Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the PDP 2023-2028 and Regional Development Plans (RDPs);
  2. Spearhead efforts to manage food inflation through the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) – develop database, dashboards, and analytical methods that will allow for the effective management of food inflation through ex ante supply-demand analysis and provide timely recommendations to the President and the Cabinet through the Economic Development Group, both on short-term measures to curb food inflation and medium-term strategies to raise agricultural productivity;
  3. Monitor the progress and rollout of Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) – develop database and public dashboard for the monitoring of IFPs, report to the President and the Cabinet on the progress made towards the completion of IFPs, including the identification of bottlenecks and constraints, and update the new list of IFPs;

Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFP) in Western Visayas have been identified. These includes the ongoingBacolod-Negros Occidental Economic Highway, Boracay Circumferential Road and Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage II.  Meanwhile, projects in the preparation phase were also listed under the IFP such as the Antique Airport Development Project, Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan Expressway (ICAEx), Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Inter-Island Link Bridge, Panay River Basin Integrated Development Project (PRBIDP), and the upgrading and improvement of the Iloilo International Container Port. Also in the list are the Iloilo-Santa Barbara Bus Rapid Transit and Panay Railway System which are on pre-project preparation phase;

  1. Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Full Devolution Initiative – monitor and provide recommendations for the implementation of the conceptual and operational framework for the Full Devolution Initiative, and conduct capacity building activities on development planning, resource programming, and monitoring and evaluation for local government units;
  2. Spearhead and coordinate efforts to strengthen and enable the Philippines’ innovation ecosystem – support the implementation of the National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document 2022-2032, provide recommendations to the President and the Cabinet, as well as the legislature that address the barriers and constraints preventing the creation of an enabling regulatory and policy environment for innovation, and based on the identified constraints, spearhead initiatives and programs that would enable innovation;

The strong support given to innovation activities will help bring about higher productivity across all sectors and hasten economic growth; and

  1. Provide policy advice to the President, the Cabinet, and the Legislative branch concerning emerging issues, legislative measures, and policy decisions – develop databases and dashboards that utilize data from traditional and regular statistical surveys as well as sources of big data (satellite data, industry data from the private sector), submit timely and informative materials to the President and Cabinet on trends for various socioeconomic indicators and proxy indicators that are relevant to emerging issues, shepherd the passage of key socioeconomic reforms by providing evidence-based recommendations to the Executive and Legislative branches of government of the on key policy issues and legislative priorities identified through the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), and formulate and implement a six-year (2023-2028) Evaluation Agenda to generate evidence on the socioeconomic impact of government programs and projects.

Moreover, President Marcos Jr. approved on December 16, 2022 the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, the country’s blueprint for socioeconomic development over the medium term and the third PDP to support the long-term vision articulated in the AmBisyon Natin 2040. The plan made good of the country’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and expanded the President’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda.

It focused on reinvigorating job creation and accelerating poverty reduction by steering the economy back to its high-growth path, and sought to effect economic transformation towards a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society.

At the regional level, the accompanying Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2023-2028 to the PDP, likewise provided the growth direction for Western Visayas. It mirrored the PDP but at the same time considered regional context, needs, and aspirations.

In pursuit of the realization of the Plan, the region will strive to achieve a GRDP growth rate of 6.0 to 7.0 percent from its 2021 base. As mentioned, we have surpassed the GRDP target. Unemployment rate is targeted to decline from 6.6 percent baseline value to 6.0 to 6.3 percent as the region pursue activities that will generate more quality jobs and employment opportunities. Poverty incidence is targeted to improve from 19.0 in 2021 to a range of 16.3-16.7 percent by end of 2023.  Along this, is the monitoring of headline inflation that is aimed to be contained from an average 6.6 percent in 2022 to a range of 2.0-5.0 percent, and food inflation, which is intended to also be within 2.0 to 5.0 percent by end of 2023. 

On March 24, 2023, the RDP 2023-2028 was presented for approval before the members of the Regional Development Council VI. The approval of the body sent a strong signal that the Plan had the support of the whole-of-government and the whole-of-society towards the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Western Visayas.

We are now in the 2nd Quarter of 2023 and, despite its challenges, we have managed to lower inflation rate by the end of the first quarter. Our strong economic growth performance for 2022 proves that our calibrated policies and strategies have helped put us on the path to recovery and on track to achieving our aspiration for an inclusive, prosperous, and resilient society by 2028. 

We thank our partners from the Philippine Statistics Authority for their hardwork in coming up with this comprehensive and valuable report. Together with the other members of the economic cluster and the rest of the bureaucracy, as well as with the cooperation of the whole-of-society, we will continue to focus on the goal of working towards a “matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat”.

Once again, good morning and a productive rest of the week for all of us.