Central Visayas growth slows to 4.8%

THE economy of Central Visayas grew at a slower rate from 7.8 in 2014 to only 4.8 percent in 2015, making Central Visayas only 10th in the Philippines last year, from No. 1 in 2010.

However, Director Ronaldo C. Taghap of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 7 said this does not mean that Cebu’s economy is going down.

Taghap assured that the decline only means that other regions grew faster than Central Visayas, as can be seen in the gross regional domestic product (GRDP).

GRDP is the aggregate of the gross value added (GVA) or income originating from each sector of the regional economy.

Taghap said the continued upbeat performance of services triggered the expansion, emerging as the top industry in terms of its growth and contribution to the Central Visayas economy.

Despite the slower pace of the region’s growth, local stakeholders still felt it was an achievement.

“Be that as it may, we consider the 4.8 percent growth respectable, given the difficult external environment that affected demand for out exports, the onset of El Niño, and the challenges in government spending during the year,” National Economic and Development Authority 7 Director Efren Carreon said.

Although the slow pace of the region’s growth was concerning to her, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng is optimistic the new administration will present more opportunities for businesses to grow in the coming months.

“Although we are concerned (about) the decrease in growth, we are happy because overall, we are still growing rapidly. It’s just that it’s slower compared to the previous year,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.

“The decrease in growth can be an opportunity for us to understand and strategize where we can improve,” she added.

Philippine Exporters Confederation Cebu president Allan Suarez.

“Yes, (there was slow growth), especially for merchandise exports, a very challenging time in 2015 because of the soft market demand.”

Cebu Bankers Club president Maximo Rey Eleccion was surprised to hear of the results. “I just cannot see why it’s down. BPOs continue to expand, OFW remittances continue to rise, consumer spending remains to be in an upward trend,” he noted.

He wondered if the results excluded Negros Oriental, which recently separated from Central Visayas to become part of the Negros Island Region.

Carreon, however, said Negros Oriental was still included in the figures. Next year, its output will be included in the figures for the Negros Island Region.

For Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Glenn Anthony Soco, the low infrastructure spending contributed to the region’s performance.

He also believes super typhoon Yolanda may have continued to have an effect.

“But we will experience a correction for 2016 because of the Yolanda relief operations, election spending and the PPP contracts. I see strong growth in the service and BPO sectors, which will help improve our GDP growth,” he said.

In the news conference on the 2015 Economic Performance of Region 7 yesterday, Taghap said that for 2015, services secured the largest share of the economic output, with 57.2 percent, higher than its 55.1 percent in 2014. Industry followed at 36.9 percent, leaving behind agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF) with a 5.9-percent share.

He said that services grew from 6.6 percent in 2014 to 8.9 percent in 2015.

The PSA 7 director also said the industry plunged from 11.3 percent in 2014 to negative five percent in 2015. The decline was due to the construction sub-sector, which suffered a reversal, from a growth of 14.7 percent to a decline of 14.7 percent.

Taghap noted that AHFF rebounded, a decline of 1.9 percent in 2014 to a 2.3-percent gain in 2015, as agriculture and forestry grew faster, from six percent to 2.8 percent, while fishing from negative 14.7 percent to seven percent.

“Out of the overall 2.8 percent growth, services contributed 4.9 percentatage points while AHFF shared one percentage point. The industry, however, pulled down the growth by two percentage point,” Taghap said.

Carreon said that the release of the 2015 GRDP is timely, as they are now in the final stages of assessing the implementation of the Regional Development Plan 2010-2016.
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