By Shah Balaw-ing

The Cordillera Administrative Region’s (CAR) economy slowed down to 1 percent in 2012 from a 1.3 percent increase in 2011, according to National Statistical Coordination Board CAR’s press release.

The region’s economic slump is mainly attributed to the decline in the industry sector particularly in the mining and manufacturing areas. Mining and quarrying activities decreased mainly due to the suspension of operations of the Philex Mines. Manufacturing at Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) also decreased as there was a low demand for electronic products.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) CAR Director Milagros A. Rimando explained that the region’s lopsided economy, which is largely dependent on PEZA, should be diversified. She also called for the need to intensify programs that would increase agricultural productivity as majority of the households in CAR is dependent on it. She added that the region must put value to agricultural productions like the construction of post-harvest facilities and food processing plants, among others.

Despite the slowdown, NEDA CAR remains optimistic of the region’s economy due to expected infrastructure boom for the next years and the growing tourism in the region.

Rimando cited the significant increase in the 2013 budget of the DPWH CAR with CAR being one of the two top regional priorities. Moreover, Baguio City remains one of the top 14 most visited tourist destinations in the country being number 6 in 2012.

With the implementation of DA’s multi-year Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP), the agriculture sector is also expected to get a boost with the projects’ fund amounting to more than P300 million. More than P100 million of which is allotted for agriculture production and infrastructure projects such as market roads, irrigation, domestic water supply, bridges and footpaths region-wide.

Rimando also expressed confidence in the strong alliance among the National Government, Regional Line Agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs), and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).  If this continues, there is no reason why the region should not be optimistic about the future, she said.