BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Prognosis for a full economic recovery seems positive, or in the words of a city official here, “bullish” as heads of offices and chief executives met to pitch development proposals in their respective areas.
OIC Regional Director Arecio Casing Jr said the past years saw a decline or “contraction” in the region’s economy because of the pandemic, but since then the area has bounced back from a negative 9.7 percent growth in 2020 to a 5.9 percent growth the year after.
Casing said in terms of money, that means an economy valued at P874 billion. He is confident that in two years, the region might hit the P1 trillion mark again.
Meanwhile, Bacolod Councilor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, who heads the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s Committee on Appropriations and Finance, said general prognosis for full recovery is “bullish”.
“We will be able to hit our targets,” he tells local media adding that a full recovery is possible, even expected, by 2023.
Meanwhile, Arecios said services still account for a huge chunk of the total economy, with 59.0 percent of the region’s total economy in 2021.
Industry shared 21.5 percent while Agriculture,Forestry and Fishing (AFF) shared 19.5 percent.
West Visayas is also the third largest rice producing region in the country, with palay production in the region in 2021 increasing by around 2.7 percent, from 2.3 to 2.4 metric tons.
From 2020 to 2021, Antique has the largest yield increase at 14.02 percent. A higher yield in corn production is recorded at 9.69 percent.
On the flip side were the damages caused by typhoons including Odette, Agaton and Basyang on the last quarter of 2021 and second quarter of 2022, respectively.
Odette alone requires an investment of P18 billion to address damages, losses, and needs, while Agaton’s initial damage and losses is calculated at to P270.3 million. Thus, there is an expected decline in the value of agriculture, Arecio said.
He also reported a dip in the region’s unemployment rates for the second quarter of 2022, with a decrease by 25.12 percent while the number of the underemployed — or those who have expressed their desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or have a new job with longer working hours — also dipped by 23.87 percent.
The number of employed on the other hand grew by 2.04 percent while the Labor Force Participation Rate or the percentage of the total number of persons in the labor force to the total population 15 years old and over, shows a slight Improvement of one percent during the 2nd quarter of 2022.
Poverty incidence in 202, however, was at 19 percent the region targets to lower this to 12 percent by 2023.
Arecio credits the improvements in the economic indicators to improved investor confidence as lockdowns are lifted and COVID-19 cases are kept at bay, boosted further by an almost 94 percent vaccination rate in the region.
On the other hand, Arecio reported that data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Region VI reported that prices of goods in Western Visayas remain higher than the national average for four consecutive months now, as the inflation rate jumped to 7.4 percent in August 2022.
“The (Philippine Development Plan) and the (Regional Development Plan) shall focus in bringing back the country and the region on the high growth path and more importantly, begin economic transformation for a prosperous, inclusive and resilient society,” Arecio said, adding that while recovery might be an uphill battle, it is still possible with the cooperation of stakeholders in the region.