CALL centers and other companies that provide information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) services will continue to drive the Central Visayas economy in the first semester of 2014, the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 believes.
This was the basis for the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 to set a growth target of 8.9 to 11.2 percent this year in the regional gross domestic product (RGDP).
According to the RDC Central Visayas Journal, the IT-BPO sector remained one of the biggest contributors to Region 7’s economic growth, with revenues largely increasing since 2010.
From January to September 2013 alone, the government earned P435.4 million in taxes and fees from this sector.
The journal reported that the RDC expects the IT-BPO sector’s growth to increase this year with the operation of three new firms in Cebu: The Results Companies, EnfraUSA Solutions Inc. and EXL Philippines Services Inc.
“The Results Companies alone was expected to create about 1,000 additional jobs before the end of 2013,” the journal said.
Last year, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who was the RDC 7 chair until June 30, was elated when Cebu City landed eighth in the Tholons top 100 outsourcing destinations worldwide. Manila was number three.
As for the tourism sector, the RDC journal reported that the Department of Tourism (DOT) recorded 1.72 million foreign tourists who came to Central Visayas from January to June 2013, about 14.8 percent higher than the 1.5 million posted in the same period of 2012.
While Cebu continues to lead in the region’s tourism growth, the provinces of Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor also got their shares of visitor arrivals, because they developed new tourist attractions or improved existing ones.
Government has yet to declare how badly the Oct. 15 earthquake and typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8 affected tourism in Central Visayas.
In its initial assessment for 2013, the RDC Journal said the growing visitor arrivals in Central Visayas can also be attributed to the increase in international and domestic flights.
The aviation sector reported 5,684 international flights in 2013 or 18.2 percent more than the 4,807 in 2012. Domestic flights also increased from 31,627 in 2012 to 39,639 in 2013.
Neda 7 Assistant Regional Director Efren Carreon told Sun.Star Cebu that construction and retail trade are also expected to contribute to economic growth this year.
In an economic situationer, which he presented to the RDC 7, Carreon said the brisk expansion of the Central Visayas economy has spurred construction activities.
For the first nine months of 2013 alone, there were around 8,379 construction projects approved, valued at P12.2 billion. Of these, 77 percent was residential buildings.
At least 11 out of the 16 projects registered with the Board of Investments (BOI) from January to September 2013 were mass housing projects, with an estimated cost of P3.22 billion. That represented 45 percent of the total BOI-registered investments for the period.
Upon the recommendation of Neda 7, RDC 7 has posted a RGDP for Central Visayas of 7.6 percent, against target of 7.5 percent for 2013.
“Neda is confident the natural calamities that affected the region in the latter part of the year—the magnitude 7.2 earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda—will not hamper Central Visayas’ overall economic growth this year,” the agency said in an economic situationer report.
At 7.6 percent, economic growth in Region 7 was lower than the 9.3 percent posted in 2012, but Central Visayas continued to surpass the national Gross Domestic Product in 2010, 2011 and 2012.