RD Fred S. Sollesta of the Philippine Statistics Authority, Region VI (PSA) called a news conference to present its 2017 Report on the Regional Economic Performance of Western Visayas with NEDA Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal presenting an overall assessment and evaluation of the data presented. This was a simultaneous activity conducted nationwide with participants coming from frontline regional agencies, state university/colleges, higher education institutions, local government units, business organizations, and media. Assistant National Statistician Candido J. Astrologo, Jr. was on hand to explain the significance of the report, especially in determining the progress of the region in meeting its planned socio-economic targets.

Western Visayas’ economy accelerated in 2017 as it posted a growth of 8.4 percent in 2017 compared to the 5.9 percent growth in 2016 or an increase by 2.5 percentage points.

This makes Western Visayas the 4th fastest growing region, next to CAR, Region 10, and Region 3. The higher growth rate is attributed mainly to the recovery of the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing sector and better performance of the Service sector.

The agriculture sector rebounded from negative 1.8 percent in 2016 to positive 8.8 percent growth in 2017, while the service sector grew from 6.7 percent in 2016 to 8.2 percent in 2017. On the other hand, the industry sector slowed down to 8.8 percent in 2017 from its previous recorded growth of 10.6 percent in 2016.

The service sector continued to account for the largest share of the region’s economy at 57.3 percent, followed by Industry with 24.1 percent and by AHFF sector with 18.6 percent share.

RD Bacal underscored the commendable efforts of the different government agencies, LGUs and the enthusiasm of the region’s farmers, growers, fishers working with agriculture organizations to diversify their produce and to shift to mechanization and better practices to improve productivity. The better performance of the AHFF sector was also due to favorable weather conditions, absence of natural calamities, and rebounding from damages wrought by past calamities.

The region was propelled mainly by the service sector, especially by the financial intermediation subsector which grew from 4.9 percent to 14.4 percent and real estate, renting which grew from 3.7 in 2016 to 7.2 percent in 2017. Financial intermediation in Region 6 reflects the increased banking and insurance transactions in 2017 which could indicate more investors and consumers fuelling the region’s economy. On the other hand, the industry sector slowed down as reflected by the deceleration of construction and electricity, gas and water supply.

The deceleration of construction is brought about by the tremendous growth recorded in 2016 where both public works and private construction of malls, office and residential buildings were very pronounced. Thus, 2017 reflected the continuing and completion of government projects started the year before, plus increments from the year’s budgets.

Outside of NCR, Western Visayas remains to be the 5th largest regional economy of the country and 5th in terms of per capita GRDP.

Prospects for further expansion is bright with the upcoming improvement of the region’s air and seaports, widening and concreting of national and provincial roads, preparation of LGUs for the establishment of industrial estates, marketing of tourism circuits in all 6 provinces to provide diverse options for visitors, the bullish setting-up of IT and BPM offices not only in Iloilo and Bacolod cities but also in other urbanized areas in Panay and Negros Occidental.

The effects of the temporary closure of Boracay Island to tourism was also discussed which referred to the paper prepared by NEDA central office pointing to the impact of the closure to the GDP and GRDP where the six-month temporary closure of tourism activities could decrease the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 0.10 percent to 0.11 percent., while slowing down the region’s GRDP growth by 5.07 percent to 5.23 percent.

RD Bacal expressed her confidence that after the clean-up and rehabilitation, Boracay Island will bounce back and will attract more tourists as the LGUs manage the islands activities that is compliant to sustainable and environmentally-compliant practices. (ygb/DRD/NEDA VI)