CV economy saw faster growth in 2018
Carlo Lorenciana (The Freeman) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Economic expansion in Central Visayas region last year is seen to have picked up, mainly boosted by its burgeoning tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors.

National Economic and Development Authority regional head Efren Carreon noted the region saw faster growth in 2018, a year when two international airports opened in Cebu and Bohol, bringing in tourism traffic.

"Our economic drivers have remained robust," Carreon said in an interview on the sidelines of the full-council meeting of the Regional Development Council at Montebello Hotel yesterday.

Official data on the 2018 gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of Central Visayas is yet to be released on April 25.

In 2017, the region’s GRDP grew slower than expected at 5.1%.

Carreon was optimistic the tourism sector will continue to be a major economic driver this year, noting the region’s 8-million tourist arrival last year.

"We attributed this to our new airport facilities. We expect 2019 to be a better year for tourism," the NEDA official said.

Furthermore, the BPO industry is also projected to create more jobs particularly in Cebu, which houses several BPO companies in its main business districts.

According to Carreon, there are now around 160,000 workers directly employed in the BPO sector.

But while prospects in these sectors remain bright, he also cited some challenges.

In 2018, Carreon said the region’s exports sector saw a negative growth.

"Exports in 2018 went down a bit in terms of value of experts," he said.

The agriculture sector also continued to be a poor performer, he added.

"Our agriculture did not perform quite well. Although the poultry sector had increased by 9%," he said.

The sector's growth prospects may even be more gloomy this year as it faces significant decrease in output amid the El Niño phenomenon.

Moreover, the high inflation rate in 2018, Carreon said, was also a big challenge as it dampened consumption.

But consumer price growth has since stabilized, raising optimism it will drive consumption this year.

Carreon also cited the potential spending activity during the election season which should further drive domestic demand.

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