Cebu 2014 : Year of massive reconstruction
Cebu business group leaders described 2014 as a year of “massive reconstruction” after the region suffered major blows from the two calamities that hit in the fourth quarter of last year.
While everything seemed back to normal, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Lito Maderazo said that this year, Cebu and Central Visayas will continue to face challenges especially for industries badly hit by the calamities like agriculture and tourism.
“We’ll feel the aftermath of the calamity this year especially the agriculture sector, fisheries, livestock, mango plantations, coconut and the important crops that were destroyed,” said Maderazo.
He said it takes 15 years to grow a coconut tree and benefit from its agricultural value.
Recent figures from the Department of Agriculture showed that agriculture damage in the Visayas from supertyphoon Yolanda reached P31.13 billion. The coconut sector sustained most of the damage with about 441,517 hectares affected and total damage pegged at P17.8 billion.
Rice plantations also suffered losses of 199,199 metric tons of rice grains valued at P3.23 billion while about 14,775 hectares of banana plantation were badly hit causing losses of P1.49 billion. The livestock sector sustained P2.24 billion while damage to fisheries was pegged at P1.49 billion.
At least 203,870 families engaged in these agricultural business were affected.
Maderazo said that businesses dependent on these products will then have to source elsewhere and may incur additional overhead costs.
One of those businesses that will suffer is the export sector that’s engaged in the export of processed banana, mango and coconut products, said Philexport Cebu executive director Fred Escalona who added that demand for coconut water is steadily growing since last year and is put at risk due to the destruction in coconut plantations.
“We just hope we can find other suppliers to sustain the momentum,” said Escalona.
Another industry that suffered direct impact is the tourism industry, which is one of the region’s major revenue generating industry. It is also expected to slow down this year.
“It will take some time before we start seeing tourists, especially from our major markets like the Koreans and Japanese, to start coming in again in big groups,” said Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph.
However, Cebu will be in a better position than other provinces in the region since it is strategically located and is being used as a hub for relief and rebuilding operations this year, said Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Philip N. Tan.
“Retail, construction is very likely to grow this year with all the massive reconstructions that will happen. People are rebuilding their homes and on top of that, many volunteer groups are also doing their own rebuilding initiatives,” Tan said.
Cebu’s economy would have performed better had it not been for the calamities that hit northern Cebu, Bohol, Samar and Leyte. These affected areas contribute much in complementing the various industries from Cebu in terms of goods and tourism.
With the destruction, the year 2014 will be all about reconstruction of damaged properties including agricultural infrastructure, tourism and individual homes.
“While we expect economy to still register at least 6.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year, these are just numbers and do not reflect the continued effect of the calamities not only on the infrastructure and properties but also to the survivors. It will take at least six months for them to recover and get back with their lives,” Joseph said.
He however said that they expect the buying patterns to get back to normal levels by the second quarter of this year with logistics in most areas affected already resuming to normal operations.
While the calamities left major destruction, Joseph, Maderazo and Tan said that they hope this will present an opportunity for people to build in the right way and follow proper zoning to better mitigate the effects of climate change which is said to bring in more stronger typhoons in the coming years.