WV 5TH LARGEST REG’L ECONOMY: Poverty incidence down 25 percent, says RDC chief

A SIGN OF PROGRESS? Is traffic congestion an indicator of a bustling economy? This is Iloilo City’s eight-lane Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue early morning every day. People are rushing to the downtown area to work. Notice the traffic congestion on the left side of the avenue. All these vehicles are going downtown. On the other hand, the avenue’s right side going toward Mandurriao district and straight to the Iloilo Airport is not congested at all.

ILOILO City – Western Visayas is the fifth largest regional economy in the country. It posted an economic growth of 6.1 percent between 2017 to 2018, higher than the National Capital Region’s 4.8 percent and only a point less than the national average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 6.2 percent, according to Antique’s Gov. Rhodora Cadiao, the Regional Development Council (RDC) chairperson.

In her State of the Region Address during RDC’s second quarter meeting yesterday, Cadiao said the total value of the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), P372.87 billion, is P21.5-billion more than in 2017.

“The country still relies heavily on the contribution of Region 6 to the overall economic output,” said Cadiao at the regional office of National Economic and Development Authority here where she delivered her address.

POVERTY

The poverty incidence among families decreased by 25 percent to 15. 9 percent and, among the population, from 31.4 percent to 21.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

“Despite our declining poverty incidence, I am still challenging everyone to walk the extra mile and reach out to alleviate the remaining 15.9 percent poor families,” said Cadiao.

She suggested strengthening government partnerships with the private sector to extend help to unfortunate families.

The employment rate in the region remained high in 2018 at 94.7 percent, posting an increase of 0.11 percent compared to 2017.

Unemployment declined by 1.85 percent but the number of underemployed persons increased by 11.38 while labor force participation rate slightly decreased by 0.65 percent as the impact of free college education in public schools was starting to be felt.

Cadiao said the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry remains a major job generator in the region.

MAJOR SECTOR SHARE IN WV ECONOMY

The region’s agriculture, forestry and fishery (AFF) sectors decelerated to negative 1.4 percent from 8.8 percent in 2017. Cadiao attributed this to the negative 1.6 percent growth in the agriculture and forestry subsectors and the negative 0.6 percent growth of the fishing subsector.

The industry sector, on the other hand, grew slightly slower at 8.6 percent from 8.7 percent in 2017.

Cadiao said mining and quarrying suffered severely; it declined by 1.5 percent from a double digit growth of 36.7 percent in the previous year.

“This is due to the unreported extraction of mineral resources by those involved in quarrying/mining in 2018. Because of this, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is expected to strengthen its monitoring activities,” said Cadiao.

Manufacturing, on the other hand, accelerated to 4.7 percent from 4.1 percent in 2017 while the service sector grew by 7.5 percent, a percentage point lower than 2017.

In terms of percentage share, Cadiao said AFF shrank to 17.2 percent from 18.6 percent in 2017, with agriculture and fishery maintaining its subsector share of 81.4 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively.

The industry sector accounted for 24.7 percent, increasing slightly from 24.1 in 2017 with the construction subsector having the highest rate share of 52.2 percent.

Meantime, the service sector increased its share to 58. 1 percent from 57.3 in 2017 with its subsectors generally maintained their shares.

INFLATION, WEATHER, ETC.

Cadiao said the region’s average monthly inflation increased – 5.9 percent in 2018 compared to only 1.8 percent in 2017.

The inflation was at its highest during the third quarter of 2018 at an average of 7.5 percent due to the continued escalation in the prices of food, energy and other petroleum products coupled with heavy rains and flooding lowering fishery and agriculture outputs.

Despite the unfavorable weather condition, Cadiao said, the production of palay and corn slightly increased, growing by 0.07 and 3.17 respectively.

The region maintained its rank as the third biggest pailay producer in the country in 2018.

Sugarcane production slightly decreased by 0.14 percent due to lesser areas planted in response to low prices quoted for sugar in the previous year.

For other crops, there were slight increases – banana (0.04 percent), mango (.004 percent), and other fruits (0.02 percent), and cacao (0.16 percent) due to increase in areas planted.

In livestock and poultry, production of hogs inched up by 0.27 percent and chicken by 5.97 percent due to sustained demand from processors, hotels, restaurants, and street food vendors.

Meanwhile, lower production was recorded for carabao (3.02 percent), cattle (2.1 percent), goat (2.7), and duck (3.81 percent) due to high marketing costs especially for the transport of livestock.

Commercial fishery harvest declined by 13.94 percent from around 72, 900 metric tons to 62,734 metric tons due to lesser fishing days caused by strong winds and rough seas as well as strict implementation of fishery laws and ordinances fishing gears.

BUSINESS & BORACAY

According to Cadiao, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Business Regulation Report showed a 14-percent increase in the approved number of business names and 42 percent increase in business renewals.

The Department of Tourism, on the other hand, reported that the number of tourist arrivals decreased by 15.33 percent from 5.8 million in 2017 to 4.9 million in 2018. Also, the total receipts went down from P128.46 billion to P104.86 billion.

Cadiao said the decrease in tourist arrivals by 900,000 could be attributed to the six-month temporary closure of Boracay from April 20 October 2018.

The closure also resulted to foregone revenues by local government units (LGUs). Cadiao cited the revenue collections at passenger terminals and environmental fees. At an average daily tourist arrival then of about 5, 941, the LGUs experienced losses of about of P1.93 million daily or P57.92 million per month, or an estimated P347.52 million for six months.

“The loss of income was felt more critically by individuals whose employment were curtailed due to the temporary closure of Boracay,” said Cadiao.

Clearly, Cadiao said, the temporary closure of Boracay resulted to a marked slowdown of the regional economy.

In tax collections, the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected a total of P9.44 billion in 2018 or a decrease of 15.49 percent from the P11.17 billion in 2017, said Cadiao.

The decrease was due to the implementation of the TRAIN Law which increased the amount of exemptions and non-taxable income on compensation to P250,000, thus decreasing the collections by 25.73 percent, said Cadiao./PN

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