Statement of NEDA VIII on the Implications of the
2020 ASPBI Results to the Eastern Visayas Regional Economy


Regional Director


2020 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI)
Regional Data Dissemination Forum
Eastern Visayas


16 November 2022
The Oriental Leyte Hotel


Ms. Joice Egsan, OIC Chief Statistical Specialist, PSA Industry Statistics Division; PSA 8 Regional Director Wilma A. Perante; other discussants in today’s forum; other officials and staff of PSA; colleagues in the government; partners from the private sector; friends in the media; ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

First and foremost, we would like to thank PSA 8 for inviting NEDA to this forum.  For the nth time, we are here to support PSA in its continuing efforts to make important statistical data known to the public. NEDA as well as other development partners clamor for a regional disaggregation of data and, as usual, PSA delivers.

Having the 2020 ASPBI, plus other official data, is a welcome development and we would like to highlight that this is crucial data for the Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2023-2028. More so that the 2020 ASPBI covers the peak of the pandemic period, when the hard lockdowns were enforced. With this, we have concrete evidence of what may be the real impact of the pandemic (at its peak) on our regional economy, especially on our businesses and workers.  

For everyone’s information, we are now in the thick of formulating the Eastern Visayas RDP 2023-2028. Aligned with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), also for 2023-2028 under the PBBM administration, our RDP embodies the desire of Region 8 to jumpstart its economic transformation to a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society. This is crucial as we work towards our regional vision. And the vision says: “a resilient and prosperous Eastern Visayas where people enjoy equitable opportunities for sustainable human development.”

Take note of the word “resilient” in our vision. This pertains to resilience not just among individuals and communities, but also resilience of establishments and workers.

We highlight the resilience of establishments, considering their vulnerability during community quarantines.  In April 2020, DTI 8 reported that 28 percent of businesses in the region closed. The pandemic was a shock, leaving establishments unprepared. Demand for businesses to immediately transition digitally skyrocketed and the restrictions drove establishments to adopt work-offsite options. As a result, businesses were pushed to digitalize, and online transactions and meetings became the new normal. These are some of the pandemic-induced changes. ASPBI gives us a glimpse of the collective status of the businesses that were able to adapt to the new normal and if they increased their profitability based on the revenue-expense ratio and the sales from e-commerce transactions.

The ASPBI can also give us insights into how large the region’s formal sector is, how many are employed, and how much compensation and revenue are generated. It reminds me that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) VIII recently had a regional roll-out of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Recommendation No. 204. What’s recommendation No. 204? It pushes for transition from the informal to the formal economy. Had all establishments been formalized, perhaps the number of the region’s establishments, as reflected in the ASPBI, would have been higher. Having more formal establishments, where workers are properly compensated, is one indicator of a booming economy.   We are not just after quantity but also quality of jobs. It’s not enough that we have more jobs generated, we want decent jobs which ensure the welfare of workers.   Thus, with the information from the ASPBI, we can partly determine if we have achieved the region’s twin goals of (1) robust, inclusive, and sustained economic growth and (2) improved quality of life and well-being of all.

As reported earlier, the 2020 ASPBI data show that there was an almost 11 percent decrease in the region’s number of establishments, and 37 percent in formal sector employment.  Nevertheless, we saw that even with the pandemic, we had 11 percent or six more medium-sized establishments, which may imply that several small establishments graduated to medium establishments,   perhaps coming from the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries and the financial and insurance activities sectors since these two recorded upticks in the number of establishments.

Overall, we observe that among the industries, and in terms of number of establishments, employment, compensation, and revenue, it is the wholesale and retail trade which is the biggest industry in our region. Also, if we look closely at the average annual compensation per paid employee, the highest paid belong to the electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning industry. At the sectoral level, those in the industry sector are paid nine times more than those in the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector[1] for example. This implies that our farmers and fisherfolk and their families remain relatively poor.  Further, data show that the pandemic has become a game-changer in our economy. In 2020, while the number of establishments and employees decreased, the average annual compensation increased for industry and services. Does it mean that establishments laid off workers but provided more compensation to those which they retained? And, in the revenue-expense ratio, in 2019, it was the real estate sector that was the most profitable but in 2020, it was the water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation sector which profited the most. It tells us the story of the cost-efficiency and productivity of establishments.

Moving forward, this current ASPBI data and other statistical data, along with the lessons from the pandemic and global headwinds, will provide a clearer picture of how to transform the enterprises which comprise our production sectors to generate more quality jobs and develop competitive products.  We can then formulate and implement the specific programs and projects that would modernize agriculture and agribusiness, revitalize the industry, and reinvigorate our services by promoting trade and investments in all sectors backed up with robust R&D, technology and innovation, and an enhanced inter-industry linkage. A year from now, when we meet again for the regional dissemination of the new ASPBI, we will check if we have reached our objectives. So, you see how valuable the ASPBI is in tracking the progress of the region’s development.

Once again, thank you and congratulations PSA for the dedication and diligence. Special mention to the field personnel in the fielding and retrieval of the questionnaires. We heard it was a 100 percent response rate. Good job! I am pretty sure it was a challenge, given the restrictions at that time. Big shout out also to our dear partners – the establishments and the people behind these industries. The data generated from your responses are highly critical in policy analysis and development planning, and development policies and plans –needless to say – could make or break us.

In closing, may I request all of you who are here to help PSA disseminate the data we learned today. The media, especially, with your gift of gab and power of the pen, I’m sure you can help shape public opinion on our development concerns – opinion that could lead to positive actions.

Damo nga salamat, mabuhay tayong lahat and God bless us all.