Region 8 economy fell by 7.6% in 2020

The economy of Eastern Visayas contracted by 7.6 percent in 2020, a sharp drop from the previous year’s rise, as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the region’s economic activities. This is the region’s first decline in GRDP following five years of gains between 2014 and 2019.

The 2020 Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) fell from 5.6 percent growth in 2019 to a decline of 13.2 percentage points, weighed down by weak results in the industry and services sectors, according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office in a press briefing Thursday, April 29.

According to NEDA Eastern Visayas Regional Director Bonifacio Uy, citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the services sector was “dealt with the largest blow” of negative 9.4 percent growth from a strong 8.9 percent growth a year earlier due to the closing of business establishments, suspension of classes, limited operations of public transportation, and disruption in sea and air travel.

“Consequently, our tourism industry has been greatly affected as regional tourist receipts plummeted by 87.7 percent to only PHP3.1 billion from PHP25 billion in the previous year,” Uy said.

Trade, transportation, accommodation and food services, communication, financial activities, real estate, and education all experienced declines,

“This may imply that most of the region’s businesses and institutions are without continuity plans and utilized traditional business models, thus were caught unprepared and had their operations badly disrupted,” Uy continued.

The industry sector shrank by 8.5 percent, owing to a slump in construction, mining, and quarrying. This is due to less construction permits and the imposition of a metallic mineral mining moratorium.

“Construction activities were hampered by the imposition of stringent health protocols and limited transport of aggregates due to the pandemic,” Uy explained.

Only agriculture, forestry, and fishing rose, but at a slower rate of 0.9 percent compared to 2.1 percent in 2019 due to cuts in the export value of commercial fisheries and aquaculture, weather disturbances, and increased law enforcement operations.

“Moreover, the partial and at least two months of almost total closure of operations in the restaurants, hotels, and other food and food-processing establishments removed a key market for farmers and fishers, which dampened agri-fishery production,” the NEDA official explained.

The Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) measures the value of goods and services generated by a region.