Based on the 2016 Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) estimates recently released by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), Region VIII turned out to be the fastest growing economy among all regions in 2016. From the 2015 GRDP growth rate of 4.6 percent, it accelerated to 12.4 percent in 2016. This is the only double-digit growth rate in the country, and the first ever for Eastern Visayas. The bullish performance of the region’s economy was a result of the hefty step-ups in the construction, manufacturing and financial intermediation subsectors, which all posted double-digit growth rates.

The unprecedented performance surpassed other fast-growing economies in Luzon and Mindanao, and even higher than the national growth of 6.9 percent. It exceeded the target growth rate of 4.61-5.61 percent set in the Updated Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2014-2016.

Looking at the growth drivers, the Industry sector regained its dominance registering 20.2 percent growth from a mere 4.9 percent in 2015. The Services sector sustained its momentum with an 8.6 percent growth from 7.9 percent in the previous year. Meanwhile, Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishery (AHFF) rebounded from a contraction of 3.5 percent in 2015 to 2.4 percent in 2016.

Construction registered the fastest growth of 44.5 percent among subsectors. This was fueled by the intensified implementation of public and private construction on top of the remaining Yolanda reconstruction projects. Manufacturing subsector followed, which grew by 19.6 percent, attributed to the resumption in regular operations of the heavy industries in the region’s manufacturing economic zone. Financial intermediation subsector grew by 11.1 percent due to the increased loan portfolio and deposit liabilities brought about by booming economic activities and wider reach of banks.

The buoyant economy in 2016 resulted in a per capita GRDP of PhP37,261 in 2016 from PhP33,771 in 2015, the highest in the last seven years.

NEDA VIII Regional Director, Atty. Bonifacio G. Uy, in his statement, said that “The challenge now is how to sustain this economic gain in order to attain a stable economy. We are hopeful that this high economic growth will result in poverty reduction, ultimately benefiting the poor and the most vulnerable in the region,” he added.

Grace A. Arteche, PFPD, NEDA VIII