October 06, 2017

CEBU CITY — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the average growth rate in the Visayas region will be higher than the government’s target for national GDP growth for 2017-2022.

In particular, the region’s growth is expected to be between 7.7 and 8.3 percent, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said during Thursday’s General Membership Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Visayas Chapter at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu City.

“Currently, Central Visayas has four main growth drivers—travel and tourism, IT-BPM, manufacturing, and construction. We also want to harness the potential of other industries in order to spur economic growth in the region,” Pernia said.

Economic growth in the region will likely be driven by the Industry and Services sectors, which make up more than 90 percent of regional economies. The Industry sector will grow an average annual rate of 10 to 11 percent, while Services is expected to grow by 7.1 to 7.5 percent from 2017-2022.

The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 highlights the potential of the Central Visayas region in the seaweed, dried mangoes, furniture, shipbuilding, and tourism industries.

Eastern Visayas, on the other hand, has potential for processed meat, copper, processed marine products, processed fruits, natural health products, and agribusiness.

Meanwhile, Secretary Pernia said that Visayas plays an important role in national economic growth—mentioning Concentration, Connectivity and Vulnerability Reduction as strengths.

“In terms of concentration, Visayas has the only copper smelting plant in the country, which is a major producer of geothermal energy, and is also a top producer of major agricultural and fishery products. In terms of connectivity, Visayas is the major link between Luzon and Mindanao,” he said.

He added that the Visayas region will be able to contribute to improving national Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA) measures, following its experience from Typhoon Yolanda.

“The Philippine economy appears robust now, but inequality across the regions remains and chronic poverty persists. Thus, the government will shift investments away from Metro Manila and into the regions especially in Visayas and Mindanao,” the Cabinet official said.

The country’s GDP remains concentrated in the National Capital Region (NCR), CALABARZON, and Central Luzon. These three regions collectively account for almost two-thirds of total GDP.

To operationalize President Duterte’s thrust on regional and rural development to reduce inequality, Regional Development Councils spearheaded the formulation of Regional Development Plans, or RDPs.

These are the regional counterparts of the PDP 2017-2022 and contain the overall development framework for each region, including sectoral and spatial strategies as well as region-specific priority programs.

The RDP for Central Visayas identifies the importance of linking major urban centers to key production areas and market centers by constructing and upgrading arterial roads, integrating transportation systems, and developing secondary and major ports.

Related projects in the pipeline in Central Visayas include the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, New Bohol Airport, Cebu BRT Line, and the New Cebu International Container Port, which were already approved by the NEDA Board and are in various stages of implementation; the Cebu-Bohol Interconnection Project and the Talisay-Naga Coastal Road, which have yet to be approved by the NEDA Board; and the the Metro Cebu Expressway and Talisay-Naga Coastal Road, which will be undergoing feasibility studies.