Full speed ahead for Central Visayas

Jeandie O. Galolo

THE target is for Central Visayas, the fastest growing regional economy in the last six years, to expand by 7.5 to eight percent during President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) 7.

Based on the Regional Development Plan 2017 to 2022, Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon said the expansion will still be driven by the industry and services sectors, to include manufacturing, construction, tourism, and business process outsourcing (BPO).

Combined, the industry and services sector account for roughly 90 percent of the regional economy, while the agri-fisheries sector takes up less than 10 percent.

As the fastest growing region with a growth story of 7.5 percent from 2011 to 2016, Central Visayas bested the CARAGA region (7.4 percent), Davao (7.4%), Central Luzon (7.2%), and National Capital Region (6.6 percent).

“The beauty of our economy is that it is diversified. Unlike other regions, once one sector collapses, the (whole) economy is affected,” Carreon said. For instance, the low output of the agri-fisheries sector in the region is compensated for by an impressive growth in industry and services.

Overall, Carreon said the local economy is “very encouraging,” given developments in construction and infrastructure projects, as well as tourism’s potential. A second airport terminal in Mactan is set to open in 2018.

Expansive

“The approval process is faster, especially now that there is a policy on increasing the budget for infrastructure. These are facilitating factors that can speed up (implementation) of big-ticket projects,” he said. These include the Metro Cebu Expressway and New Cebu International Container Port.

Last Thursday, the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 endorsed P450.1 billion for projects and activities in 2018.

Nevertheless, there are also threats.

One of the vulnerable sectors today is the IT-BPO sector following the decision of some US BPO companies’ to defer their investments in the Philippines due to the Trump administration’s unclear economic policies on outsourcing, according to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

The others, according to Carreon, are international developments like price increases in oil that will subsequently raise prices; a drop in export demand as some countries experience slower economic growth; and decisions of some countries to limit overseas workers into their respective territories.