Missing Iloilo in ‘richest list’

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has recently cast a spotlight on the economic performance of regions outside the National Capital Region (NCR), with Iloilo City ranking as the fourth richest city in terms of per capita GDP.

However, the PSA’s Provincial Product Accounts (PPA) report also inadvertently highlights the conspicuous absence of Iloilo province from the list of affluent areas, underscoring a more profound narrative about regional disparities and the complexities of economic growth indicators.

Iloilo City’s per capita GDP, which soared to P306,444, surpasses the national average by a notable margin.

This achievement is rightfully celebrated by Mayor Jerry Trenas, who attributed this success to the concerted efforts of the government, businesses, and the citizens. Indeed, the city’s plans for future growth may set a benchmark for others to emulate.

But per capita GDP is a double-edged sword when used to measure economic prosperity. While it accounts for the average contribution of each individual to the GDP, it does not adjust for the variance in population sizes across provinces and cities. This leads to a skewed perspective, where the real economic situation may be glossed over by a superficially rosy per capita figure.

Iloilo province’s absence from the top ranks should trigger a deeper inquiry into the contributing factors behind the disparity. Slow economic activity and low foreign direct investments are likely suspects in this economic whodunit.

While Iloilo City flourishes, its provincial counterpart might be grappling with the challenges of attracting investment and stimulating economic activities at the grassroots level.

The economic dynamism of a province or city is influenced by various factors, including infrastructure, governance, access to capital, and educational attainment. Provinces that fall behind in these areas often struggle to provide fertile ground for businesses to thrive and for their populations to prosper.

Moreover, the pursuit of higher per capita GDP should not overshadow the equally important goal of inclusive growth. This concept underscores the need for all segments of society to benefit from economic progress. When per capita figures rise but the gains are not felt by the majority, it is a sign of increasing inequality, which can lead to social and economic instability.

The PSA’s findings should serve as a clarion call for policymakers and local leaders in Iloilo province and other regions lagging behind. It is time to adopt innovative strategies to boost economic activity, encourage foreign and domestic investment, and most importantly, ensure that the growth translates into tangible improvements in the lives of all citizens.

While celebrating Iloilo City’s success, we must not ignore the silent struggle of its provincial counterpart. It is critical to examine the root causes of this economic divergence and address them with targeted policies that promote equitable development. Only then can the triumphs of one city in the Visayas truly reflect the prosperity of the entire region.

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