National Economic and Development Authority Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal yesterday said Western Visayas is the fourth largest economy and the sixth fastest growing in the country.
Western Visayas is very critical to the country, being one of the top five rice producers and the number one producer of sugar in the country, said Bacal, who was in Bacolod City for an orientation on the mandate and functions of the Regional Development Council and NEDA, attended by Negros Occidental officials.
If anything happens to the region’s production, the country will have to import rice, and the same is true for sugar, she said.
Western Visayas’ Gross Regional Domestic Product was 7.5 percent last year from 6.2 percent in 2011, led by the good performance of the services sector, she said.
Services comprised the bulk of the region’s economy, accounting for 57.1 percent, followed by agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing (AHFF), and industry, with 25.4 and 17.5 percent shares, respectively, a National Statistical Coordination Board report of the region’s performance in 2012 showed.
Bacan said with numerous investments coming in this year, the region’s economy is expected to continue to grow.
The trends are looking good, she said, noting that in Bacolod City, more businesses are being set up, or expanding.
Bacolod and Iloilo are also preparing to host some of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) ministerial meetings in 2015 since Western Visayas submitted its bid to host the meet, she noted.
The number of Business Process Outsourcing firms in Bacolod City is twice as many as those in Iloilo, she also said.
Negros and Iloilo are the leading economies in Region 6, she said.
Meanwhile, the NEDA has no position on the proposal for a one-island region for Negros, which will be composed of the Occidental and Oriental provinces, it should be the Regional Development Councils of Western and Central Visayas that should decide on the matter, she said.
“It would be feasible to maintain a one-island region if the area was as big as Mindanao, but with Negros, I don’t know,” she said.
Creating a new region would mean having to spend for new regional offices and staff, she said.*CPG