The economy of Western Visayas (Region 6) grew by 6.4 percent in 2019, faster than Central Visayas (Region 7) which grew at 5.9 percent, and Eastern Visayas (Region 8) which grew at 5.3 percent.  This was reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority during the Regional Dissemination Forum on the 2019 Performance of the Regional Economy on 23 November 2020, via teleconferencing.

PSA VI OIC-Regional Director Ms. Marlene Y. Alviar reported that the 6.4 percent growth rate of Western Visayas was higher than the growth of 4.8 percent in 2018.  The total goods and services generated by Western Visayas was contributed by the growth in the Agriculture and Fishery sector at 0.1 percent, the Industry sector at 1.3 percent, and Services sector at 5.0 percent.

Services, which accounted for 62.1 percent of the economy of Western Visayas, grew by 8.2 percent in 2019. The top contributor to the growth of Services was accommodation and food service activities as it grew by 31.4 percent, a significant increase compared to the -10.5 percent growth in the previous year. Among the subindustries with faster growth in 2018 were: financial and insurance activities, which grew by 16.3 percent; and transportation and storage with a growth rate of 10.7 percent.

Industry, accounting for 21.0 percent share to the regional economy, contracted to 6.2 percent in 2019 from 7.0 percent in 2018.  Mining and quarrying, the main contributor to Industry growth, posted a double digit growth of 23.5 percent. Electricity, steam, water and waste management also accelerated to 5.3 percent from 4.8 percent in 2018. Meanwhile, Manufacturing slowed down to 5.5 percent in 2019 from 8.5 percent in the previous year. Construction suffered a reversal as it declined by -0.7 percent from a double digit growth of 10.0 percent in the previous year.

AHFF, which had 16.9 percent share, expanded by 0.5 percent in 2019 as compared with the -0.4 percent in 2018.

The economy of Western Visayas was valued close to a trillion, at PhP 915.3 billion making the region the 4th largest economy outside the National Capital Region.

“The significant decrease in inflation rate of 2.4 percent in 2019 from 5.9 percent in 2018 contributed to the GRDP growth given the steadier prices of goods and raw materials.  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,” explained NEDA 6 RD    Ro-Ann A. Bacal in her statement after the GRDP Report.

In agriculture and fishery, while the region is slowly gaining from the negative 0.4 growth in 2018 to a positive 0.5 percent growth in 2019, Director Bacal mentioned the need to enhance support for the sector in order to further increase production and productivity, through mechanization of the sector and motivating the young to venture in agri-business not only in the production but also in processing of ivalue-added products especially those that have export potentials.

In addition, Director Bacal highlighted, that the region’s Industry Sector is heavily dependent on the Semirara Coal Mine, the largest coal mine in Antique and one of the major supplier of coal to the region’s power generators, i.e. Panay Energy Development Corporation and Palm Concepcion Power Corporation. Nonetheless, the increased growth in mining and quarrying meant also that construction was still thriving given the increased demand for construction materials.

For the Services Sector, the number of BPOs under the Iloilo Federation of IT grew at 69 in 2019 with 26,820 employees and cumulative investment of $54 Million. The challenge is how to sustain the growth, expand economic opportunities, and increase the potential of the region’s workforce especially for the region’s the millennials.

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 RoRo vessel trips as new tourist destinations in the region were being developed.

In her closing statement, Director Bacal shared Socio-Economic Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua’s thoughts saying that the economy of the country is strong enough to rebound, if we allowed it to.  And so, 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. This will also put the Philippines back on its solid growth and development trajectory.

The release of the 2017 to 2019 Regional Accounts of the Philippines, namely the Gross Regional Domestic Product and the Gross Regional Domestic Expenditure, are aligned with the revised estimates and rebased to 2018 prices of the annual national accounts, that were released in April 2020. Complete tables, charts, and data visuals on the Regional Accounts of the Philippines can be accessed at (CPGaitana/NEDA)