‘Cebu capable of bigger contribution to economy’
Cebu can contribute more to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth if it only taps into its strengths, an Economics professor of the Ateneo de Manila University said.
Citing data from the Ateneo Eagle Watch, a database of Philippine economic statistics collated by Ateneo’s Department of Economics, Bautista said Central Visayas region contributed only around 6 percent to the country’s total GDP growth in 2013 and 2014.
Cebu is the biggest contributor to the Central Visayas economy.
“We can do better than that,” Ateneo professor Dr. Maria Christina Bautista said in an economic forum organized by Padgett Place of the Duros Group and Ateneo alumni in Cebu.
Bautista said Cebu’s strengths lie in tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors, both dollar earners.
“Use the ports. Get cruise ships to dock. Think of six-story barges full of people coming into the port. Tourists will come in droves, presumably from other countries,” she said.
The economist also highlighted during her talk the strength of the BPO industry in Cebu.
“BPO is the biggest generator, the biggest source of market for real estate and hotel,” she said, citing that those who work in the sector earn more and therefore have more spending power.
She also said Cebu’s “staggering skyline,” with the development of new commercial towers or high-rise condominium buildings, is attracting more investors into the BPO sector.
Bautista added that people are naturally drawn to where the growth is, and growth is happening in Cebu, and the rest of the Philippines.
But substantial development is critical for the province and is one of the challenges for Cebu. She said tourists will no longer favor Cebu if the province is “all buildings.”
“Infrastructure, therefore, has to have environmental consideration. I hate to say this, but maybe it would be better sometimes if developers do not push (through with) their projects if the harm to the environment is great,” she added.
She urged developers to apply more green technology and incorporate more “greeneries” in their designs.
She also highlighted the need to improve road infrastructure.
“Cebu’s carmageddon is close. You lack mass transport. You don’t have a mass transport system,” she said.
Bautista projected the gross domestic product (GDP) this year to grow between 6.3 and 6.5 percent, lower than the government’s target of 6.8 to 7.8 percent. The economy grew 5.8 percent last year.
Inflation rate is expected to average 1.6 percent, while the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) is expected to end the year at 7,200.
Lastly, Bautista projected overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances to grow at 2.75 percent.
“The trends are very telling. I know most economists will question these, but this is the kind of (economic) picture I have not seen anywhere apart from the Philippines. Growth here in the next few years is positive,” she said.
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