ATTY. BONIFACIO G. UY
NEDA VIII Regional Director
2019 REPORT ON THE ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE OF EASTER VISAYAS
REGIONAL DISSEMINATION FORUM
24 November 2020 | 9:00 AM | via Zoom
Fellow workers in government, partners from the private sector, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
As announced by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) VIII, the Eastern Visayas economy grew for the 5th consecutive year since 2015, at 5.3 percent. However, this is a slowdown from the 7.0 percent growth registered in 2018. Despite this, the region ranked as the 11th fastest growing economy in the country and maintained its 2.4 percent share to the national output. Notwithstanding the positive growth, this figure is below the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017-2022 annual growth forecast of 6.1 percent1.
Looking at this performance closely, agriculture rebounded by 2.1 percent from its 0.8 percent contraction in the previous year. Production increments were noted in most commodities with coconut on top. Aggregate fisheries production went up by 11.17 percent as higher growth was recorded in the volume of commercial fisheries. All these buoyed the output losses in palay and hog with the latter ascribed to the widespread scare of the African Swine Fever (ASF). To date, Eastern Visayas is still ASF-free.
The upbeat performance of the Service sector was sustained at 9.1 percent, exceeding the RDP upper band target for the year of 7.3 percent2. As such, it continued to be the main driver of the regional economy. Among its subsectors, financial and insurance activities exhibited the biggest expansion of 19.3 percent. Both deposit liabilities and loans portfolio accelerated by 19.98 percent and 11.68 percent, respectively.
Other Services came in close with a 16.2 percent growth on account of the booming tourism industry. Tourist receipts increased by 18.4 percent following the higher year-on-year average daily expenditure of tourists in the region. Despite being one of the brightest spots, tourism only accounted for 1.7 percent of the GRDP.
The Industry sector, which was the region’s economic engine in the past, slowed down from 7.7 percent in 2018 to 2.2 percent in 2019. This has tempered the overall growth of the regional economy.
In particular, the Construction subsector decelerated by -1.8 percent in 2019 from 18.4 percent in 2018, a steep decline of 20.2 percentage points. Government construction was sustained, albeit with a minimal growth of 0.85 percent in 2019, based on budget released to DPWH VIII. The slump can be attributed then to private construction activities, with the drop in the value of construction projects based on approved building permits. Leyte province, where more than half (56.94%) of the region’s total construction in 2019 came from, recorded 46.68 percent less in terms of the total floor area of constructions against the preceding year. This downturn dragged the performance of the Industry sector given that Construction comprised 48 percent of the sector’s entire output. Additionally, it had the largest share to the 2019 GRDP of 19.1 percent across subsectors.
Mining and Quarrying registered the largest contraction of 73.3 percentage points owing to stricter monitoring of mining contracts and permits in the region. This, however, only had a marginal share of 0.1 percent to Eastern Visayas’ aggregate economic output.
Manufacturing served as the frontrunner among the Industry subsectors. It recovered from a dismal contraction of 6.6 percent in 2018 to a 6.0 percent growth in 2019 credited to the exponential threefold increase (347.7%) in exports from USD527.6 million in 2018 to USD2.4 billion in 2019. The surge is due to the significant increase of high-value products exported from the Leyte Industrial Development Estate namely cathodes, sections of cathodes, copper concentrates, and gold bullions.
On the expenditure side, household consumption improved by 5.7 percent, government spending by 7.5 percent, and private investments by 16.0 percent, all indicating higher demand for goods and services during the period in review. The low inflation rate of 1.5 percent in 2019 may have induced this as slower price movements encourage consumer spending in both the public and private sectors. In contrast, exports of goods to rest of the world declined by negative 13.1 percent due to the reduction in exports of agro-based products.
As we move forward, our resolve to pursue our development goals is stronger. Admittedly, our present circumstances pose formidable challenges. Foremost, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the quarantine restrictions thereafter are seen to take a toll on the economy and subsequently increase poverty.
Dismal economic growth is anticipated this year as we continue to grapple with this global pandemic. We took note that at the peak of community quarantine (CQ) in April 2020, the region’s unemployment rate spiked to 14.3 percent before tapering off to 8.1 percent in the third quarter. Around 29 percent of business establishments were non-operational. This rate narrowed down to 1.70 percent in late-August with the gradual and calibrated re-opening of economic activities.
To cushion the adverse impact brought about by COVID-19, the government initiated measures to improve growth and job prospects, as well as protect the highly-marginalized and vulnerable segments of society.
To a highlight a few, the Department of Labor and Employment VIII disbursed PhP64.5 million to 12,901 affected workers in 915 establishments through its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP)<sup3< sup=””>. Under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers #Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK) implemented by the same agency, a total of 15,750 beneficiaries in the region received PhP51.9 million.</sup3<>
The Department of Agriculture VIII has also provided financial assistance to 58,465 affected farmers through three (3) of the agency’s programs on Rice Farmer Financial Assistance, Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers, and Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) Program. In the SURE Aid alone, a total of PhP37.0 million were disbursed to nearly 1,500 farmers in Eastern Visayas.
Emergency cash subsidies under the Social Amelioration Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development amounting to PhP3.8 billion was distributed to 830,466 families in Region VIII4.
The recently enacted Bayanihan 2, which is the government’s primary recovery package against COVID-19 provides for assistance, subsidies and other forms of socioeconomic relief to reduce its ill effects on the well-being of our people. As of November 3, around PhP80.0 billion in regular appropriations have been released for it nationwide. This is pivotal to help revitalize the economy and thrive in the new normal.
Finally, the 2021 budget will provide us with some of the massive tools necessary in our recovery efforts. The Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII has endorsed a total of PhP108.71 billion programs, projects, and activities for FY 2021. Infrastructure and utilities sector accounted for PhP92.79 billion, followed by social development at PhP7.44 billion, economic development and development administration at PhP6.33 billion and PhP2.2 billion, respectively.
In closing, the end of COVID-19 is still uncertain. As the pandemic continues to rage on in the yet foreseeable future, it is easy to feel disheartened. We are survivors. Just as Eastern Visayas rose from the catastrophic winds of Supertyphoon Yolanda, we will definitely come out of this unprecedented health and economic crisis stronger with our unified efforts and resilient spirit.
Thank you and take care always.
1 Target based on Constant 2000 Prices
2 Target based on Constant 2000 Prices
3 as of September 2020
4 as of November 2020