MANILA – Reelectionist Sen. Sonny Angara is encouraging local government units (LGUs) to create new city centers and identify potential economic zones in their localities in order to expand development in the region and spread economic activities to provide jobs and livelihood opportunities to the people of Panay.
According to Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Western Visayas still holds the potential for economic growth after posting a 6.1-percent regional gross domestic product (GRP) in 2018 based on the latest data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last month.
Over the last three years, Region 6 — which groups Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, and Guimaras — registered upward growth rates, with the economy expanding to P596 billion in 2016; P659 billion in 2017; and P739 billion in 2018.
The industry sector, which accounted for 24.7 percent share of the regional economy, expanded by 8.6 percent in 2018 while the construction sector, the main contributor to the industry’s growth, saw a double-digit growth of 14.3 percent.
“It is necessary that we look to cities in the region that have the potential to be engines of economic growth in the long-term,” said the lawmaker from Aurora who is running under the platform “Alagang Angara.”
“We need to build new hubs for economic development and make them the region’s biggest growth drivers and highly desirable locations for dwellers, workers and migrants,” said Angara.
In creating new city centers, Angara said the government must put in place the vital infrastructure that would translate to more opportunities outside the capital region.
The government, he said, needs to expand or build new seaports, airports, bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure to attract foreign and domestic investment into new regional growth hubs.
“Developing new city centers means creating jobs, income and wealth for local residents and spur economic growth,” Angara pointed out.
Earlier, Angara said the government should look for ways to attract investments that will create higher-paying jobs to encourage Filipinos to stay and work in the country.
He said it may consider launching a new “Made-in-the-Philippines” campaign, which would make use of the country’s unique competitive advantage in the services sector.
“The Philippines is a services economy and a lead exporter of services, and we can use this as a starting point for a new Made-in-the-Philippines campaign,” Angara said.
He added: “The campaign does not have to be a particular good. It can be a service that we perform, but we have to figure out what the core competencies are and try to leverage on that.”
The industry sector, which accounts for 24.7 percent share of the regional economy, expanded by 8.6 percent in 2018 while the construction sector, the main contributor to the industry’s growth, saw a double-digit growth of 14.3 percent.
The country’s economy grew by 6.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, driven by the services sector which posted the highest share in the Gross Domestic Product of 56.2 percent, followed by industry (34.8 percent), and agriculture (8.9 percent)./PN