NEDA VIII Regional Director

Press Conference on the 2016 Performance of the
Eastern Visayas Regional Economy
Hotel Alejandro, Tacloban City
04 May 2017, 9:00 AM

Colleagues in the government, partners from the private sector, members of the media,ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

We are happy to announce that Eastern Visayas recorded the fastest economic growth in the country at 12.4 percent in 2016, higher than the 4.6 percent growth in 2015. Adding optimism to the figure is that it is the only double-digit growth nationwide, and sets an unprecedented growth in the region. With this development, the previous medium-term period came to a close with a strong macroeconomic fundamental, exceeding the growth target of 4.61 to 5.61 percent. This gain cements the foundation for our growth trajectory in the coming years. If sustained, there is a strong likelihood in surpassing the short-term median growth target of 5.45 percent in 2017.

The bullish scenario that comes with the broad-based growth was a result of flourishing economic activities on the back of high domestic demand; strong business confidence; and public and private investments, as well as continued post-Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, which triggered the implementation of construction projects; among others. Election spending, as a fiscal factor, could have also bolstered growth in 2016.

We deem this strong growth as a buildup of the gains already reaped in 2015, during which turnaround in economic growth, significant reduction in poverty incidence and modest gains in narrowing income inequality were recorded. The buoyant economy in 2016 also resulted in a per capita GRDP of PhP37,261.00 measured at constant term, the highest in the last seven years, which also grew the fastest year-on-year across regions.

A closer look on the supply side of the regional economy showed the ripple effect of its different components. The industry sector regained its dominance as the primary growth driver for 2016, which grew from 4.9 percent to 20.2 percent. This upbeat performance was attributed to the huge value added growth of the construction subsector and the turnaround of the manufacturing subsector. The construction subsector peaked to a 44.5 percent growth due to the intensified implementation of public construction projects such as road widening and flood control projects, among others, on top of the remaining post-Yolanda reconstruction projects. Private construction also contributed to the sector’s growth, precipitated by investments such as the opening of hotels, malls, and other establishments – largely seen as a spillover from the gains in the services sector. We also welcome the 19.6 percent growth in the manufacturing output, a reversal from the 3 percent contraction in 2015. This was mainly propelled by the resumption in regular operations of the heavy industries in the region’s manufacturing economic zone.

The services sector, on the other hand, sustained its momentum with an 8.6 percent growth. The increased financial transactions brought about by booming economic activities and wider reach of banks induced the accelerated growth of the financial intermediation subsector at 11.1 percent. Higher government spending, one of the underpinnings of the construction subsector’s growth, could have also engendered the 6.3 percent increase in the value added component on public administration.

We are pleased to note that, despite the threats of dry spell in the prior year, the agriculture and fishery sector, which has been showing dismal performance since 2010, rebounded with a 2.4 percent growth in 2016. This could be explained by the observed growths in the total production value of poultry and fisheries in 2016. However, the level of the primary sector’s gross value added remains low than in the pre-Yolanda period. The challenge then lies in upscaling this growth by modernizing the agriculture and fishery sector, particularly in making it resilient to risks of disasters and climate change and in strengthening its linkages to the industry sector.

Moving forward, we see the need to sustain these economic gains in order to maintain a stable economy, at least in the medium term. We should not lose sight of our objective to effectuate an economic growth that translates to poverty reduction and job generation in the region. That being said, we will continue to tap and optimize the potentials of the region in areas where it has the competitive advantage from the rest of the country.

The Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017-2022, which serves as the development blueprint of the region for the next six years, shall be launched within the second quarter of this year. The RDP resonates the holistic development agenda of the current administration by enhancing the social fabric (Malasakit), reducing inequality in economic development opportunities (Pagbabago), and increasing potential growth (Patuloy na Pag-unlad). As with the rest of RDPs in the country, the EV RDP 2017-2022 plays a crucial role since it spells out the strategies in building the foundation towards the realization of the country’s long-term vision by 2040, aptly called the AmBisyon Natin 2040. The said vision articulates the people’s aspirations of a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life. Thus, in aligning the RDPs towards a common goal, we amble the same path towards sustainable development.

The sectors of agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing, and tourism will take the centerpiece of the RDP for the next six years as the key priority thrusts of the region. The development of these sectors is seen to catalyze inclusive value chain linkages that will translate to more output and higher income. As a major strategy, massive rural industrialization through localizing industry roadmaps, investing in agribusiness and fishery areas, developing economic zones, strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises, among others, bodes well in attaining robust economic growth. Nonetheless, other dimensions of development will also be given closer attention, such as human capital, social protection, technology, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, environment, culture, governance, and peace and security, among other components.

We take cognizance of the fact that our administration puts priority on regional development as a means of spreading out economic growth and in reducing spatial inequalities in development pace. In particular, we see bright prospects in the massive infrastructure development agenda of this administration, tagged as the Golden Age of Infrastructure, in enhancing intra- and inter-region connectivity. Recently, the Three-Year Rolling Infrastructure Program (TRIP), which outlines the pipeline of infrastructure projects from 2018 to 2020, showed that most of the infrastructure projects will roll out in the poorest regions of the country. Eastern Visayas, in particular, has 147 projects amounting to PhP19.8 billion, the third largest share across regions, or equivalent to 12.58% of the total amount of projects listed in the TRIP. The assurance of corresponding infrastructure support will augur well in pushing for the development thrusts of our region.

Right policies will shape our outlook in the future. National initiatives to catalyze and embed reforms in governance by reducing the cost of doing business, institutionalizing a competition policy framework, implementing a comprehensive tax reform, and promoting innovation, among others, all support an enabling environment that facilitates sustainable development at the regional level.

As we embark on another medium-term timeframe, we are hopeful that this high economic growth, in synergy with the collective actions across the public and private sectors, will redound to a growth trajectory that ultimately benefits the poor and the vulnerable in our region.

Damo nga salamat. Mabuhay ang Eastern Visayas!.