In photo: Aldrin R. Bahit,Jr. (PSA-CAR), Ms. Suzan Balanza (DA), Ms. Vivial Ilarina (PSA-CO), RD Villafe Alibuyog (PSA-CAR), ARD Jedidia Aquino (NEDA), Engr. Alfredo Genetiano (MGB), and Dir. Rogel Joseph Del Rosario (BSP), and ARD Alberto Gahid (DPWH) –not in photo.

The Cordillera’s economy in 2016 is now valued at  Php 137 B, a respectable increase of 2.1 percent compared to the previous year. This was revealed by  PSA Dir. Villafe Alibuyog during the press conference on the 2016 Economic Performance of CAR held last May 4, 2017 at the Venus Park View Hotel, Baguio City. Industry continues to account for the biggest share to the total output at almost half or 49.4 %, followed by the services at 41.7 % while the agriculture had the lowest share at 8.8%. At the sub-industry level, manufacturing is still the highest contributor to the regional economy with 40.6 percent share to the total regional output.

The industry sector particularly the manufacturing sub-sector continues to pump up the region’s economy.  On the other hand, the services sector posted a much higher growth at 6.5 percent for the same period propelled by growth in the other services composed of personal services, tourism, health, education, etc.

In response to the performance of the region’s economy, Assistant Regional Director Jedidia Aquino of NEDA CAR said that the 2.1 percent growth indicates the “an affirmation of the steady albeit slow track towards a higher growth path.”  ARD Aquino mentioned the big challenge facing the region, – that of – increasing the industry’s contribution while at the same time sustaining the service sector’s momentum. “There is a need to diversify the sources of growth in industry as the region cannot rely heavily on traditional high-value electronics exports which is vulnerable to changes in the global economy”, ARD Aquino said.  At present, manufacturing sector which produces mostly high value electronic products, accounts for 82 percent of total industrial output.

A bright spot in the region’s economy is the high growth rate posted by the electricity, gas, and water by 13.4 percent for the same period. ARD Aquino attributed this to the expanding production of hydro power plants in the region. “We note that our electricity sector specifically generation is slowly making a difference with the development of our hydro-potentials”, ARD Aquino said.

ARD Aquino also batted for the improvement of agricultural sector. She proposed that more must be done to lift agricultural productivity and to make the sector and its players especially the farmers, more resilient to weather shocks.  “Our agriculture must become a reliable source of inputs for our home-grown processing and manufacturing firms.  We need to continue implementing value-adding activities to our agricultural products through innovation and technology that will increase their value, and thereby link our farmers to industry”, ARD Aquino elaborated.

In response Ms. Susan Balanza, planning officer of DA-CAR acknowledged the issue pointing out to disasters as the culprit for the agriculture’s lackluster performance in 2016.  She cited several initiatives of DA such as high yielding crop varieties being propagated, enhancement of support services such as irrigation and regulation of agricultural conversion to urban uses. She also cited the value chain approach as a planning tool to monitor every part of the production process and immediately pinpoint the problem along the way.