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Cebu, CV sustain growth for 3rd year

By: - Senior Reporter / @agarciayapCDN
/ 08:01 AM February 09, 2013

Central Visayas sustained growth rate in at least the last three years with last year’s Gross Regional Domestic Production higher than the 6.6 percent national average.

For this growth to be inclusive a senior economist at the National Economic Development Authority in Region 7 (Neda 7) said that more investments are still needed in the manufacturing sector.

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“Manufacturing should be revitalized to develop a ‘two-legged’ economy that is not only dependent to industry and services sector,” said Efren Carreon, asst. regional director of Neda 7.

To sustain the growth, Carreon said that we need to push for more manufacturing investments which will help balance the industries that fuel the economy of the region.

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Employment also improved based on figures as of October 2012 with 93.5 percent employment in the region which according to Carreon will validate the improvement in the region’s economic condition fueled by the outsourcing and construction boom, retail expansion and solid outsourcing sector.

Although employment rates are higher in Central Visayas, sustained growth will further increase its capacity to absorb unemployment in neighboring regions.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Prudencio Gesta agrees on the need to expand Cebu’s and the CV’region’s manufacturing and agriculture sectors to create more jobs.

“I strongly believe that Central Visayas can sustain its GDP growth momentum this year as its economic growth drivers like ICT/BPOs, tourism, construction, real estate development, OFW deployment. Trading and other economic activities remain on its upward trend and can generate more employment opportunities,” said Gesta.

Underemployment also improved from 22 percent in April 2012 to 18.4 percent in October last year.

“Construction grew by 21.5 percent which is the highest among all sectors. The construction boom provided jobs for those who cannot land jobs in the outsourcing sector,” said Carreon.

“This was helped by the entrance of KPO or knowledge process outsourcing companies which allows those who feel underemployed in call centers now land a job that better suit them in the KPO companies which pays more,” said Carreon.

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While the outsourcing sector has been doing so much for the economy, Carreon said that developing the manufacturing sector can help solve unemployment and stimulate higher spending capacity among the population thus resulting to a more vibrant economy.

Based on partial 2012 data, the Central Visayas, whose economic hub is Cebu, will surpass the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 6.6 percent and will remain on the top five fastest growing economy in the country.

Carreon estimates real Gross Regional Domestic Production (GRDP) growth rate in the region between 7 to 8 percent.

“In 2012 we have sustained economic growth as preliminary indicators show that most likely we’ll have higher than the national GDP. We have always surpassed the national average,” said Carreon.

Central Visayas had the highest growth rate in 2010 with 12.5 percent compared to national average of 7.6 percent. In 2011, the national GDP growth was 3.9 percent, but Central Visayas, composed of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces registered a GRDP growth of 7.5 percent.

In 2011 the services sector was the biggest contributor of the GRDP at 56 percent at P336 billion while industry followed with 36 percent contribution at P214 billion.

“Total GRDP in 2011 was P602 billion. In 2012 the target was 6.5 percent to 7 percent growth or a GRDP of P641 billion,” said Carreon.

Industry sector includes mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, electricity, gas and water supply.

Services sector includes transport, storage and communication; trade; real estate renting and business services which includes the outsourcing sector and the tourism sector.

“The real estate renting and business services is one of the highest growing sector which grew by 10.9 percent in 2011, this is a good indicator and we expect the same trend for 2012,” said Carreon.

In 2012, there were 17 new outsourcing companies that set shop in Cebu. The employment is now estimated at 90,000 concentrated in IT parks and IT accredited buildings in the region.

Tourism grew by 12.2 percent as of first quarter of 2012 with 565,898 foreign tourists and 891,006 domestic travelers.

2013 Target

This year, the target GRDP growth is 6.7 percent to 7.3 percent which according to Carreon is achievable especially that 2013 is an election year.

According to Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph “we need to once and for all breakdown the barriers that have made the Philippines an Asian laggard in attracting foreign investments. We are moving there but too slowly. Our people need jobs – today. Foreign Direct Investment creates jobs. And jobs are a major tool in fighting poverty.”

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