Eastern Visayas economy slows to 1.8%
TACLOBAN CITY—Eastern Visayas’ economy slowed to a 1.8-percent growth in 2017 after racing to a 12.8-percent growth in 2016 partly due to government red tape which local government units and agencies were urged to address.
Bonifacio Uy, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) regional director, told members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) that more should be done to cut red tape, which Uy said was obstructing the flow of investments into the region.
The RDC held its second quarterly meeting here on Friday.
Level playing field
According to Neda figures, investments in the region fell to P534 million in 2017 from P807 million in 2016.
Its growth rate fell to 1.8 percent in 2017 from 12.8 percent in 2016, which was fueled mainly by rehab projects after the region was pummeled by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Uy, who is also RDC vice chair, said “extensive efforts” should be made “to reduce the cost of doing business” and improve the playing field to draw in more investors.
Investments, he said, would not only generate more revenue but more jobs as well.
Uy said government agencies and the private sector must coordinate to achieve a business-friendly regime.
On May 28, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.
It seeks to eliminate red tape in government and the waiting time for documents.
Red tape has been cited as a source of corruption in agencies.
Uy said that although Eastern Visayas’ economy slowed to 1.8 percent in 2017, he was optimistic it would bounce back this year.
“We are expecting to recover from this decline” through infrastructure “and institutional reform,” he said.
Among the big-ticket projects that either started or are to start this year in the region include the P7.9-billion tide embankment project in Leyte, the P1-billion Samar Pacific Coastal Road project in Northern Samar, and the P716-million improvement of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City, the gateway to Eastern Visayas.
Income boost, price increase
Uy said the full implementation of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act would boost household income and consumption, though he admitted that it could also fuel increases in prices of goods and services.
Uy also said the region’s economy should be protected against natural disasters like Yolanda, the world’s strongest storm to hit land, and the 6.5-magnitude quake that struck Leyte in 2017.
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