Palawan’s economy has been on a steady downward course since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a performance report released Monday by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

The province’s gross domestic product (GDP) saw a negative 5.7 percent growth during the 2019-2020 period, compared to positive growth of 3 percent in the 2018-2019 period before the pandemic started.

Receiving the heaviest blow was the services sector, which includes tourism services. The sector recorded -10.7, and -0.2 percent growth during the two consecutive years of the pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, the PSA report noted that the province’s positive growth of 3.8 percent was being led mainly by the agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) sectors, which contributed 1.8 percent of GDP by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, the industry contributed 0.6 percent while the services sector posted a 1.4 percent growth.

“Ang services talaga natin ang bumagsak. Kaya nga dapat hindi tayo nakaasa sa isang industry lang. Dapat ma-balance natin para kung ma-hit tayo ng ganitong pandemic ay hindi babagsak ang ating economy,” PSA Palawan chief statistical specialist Maria Lalaine Rodriguez said during a presentation of the PPA report on Tuesday.

The GDP of Puerto Princesa in 2018 was valued at P47.2 B, increasing seven percent in 2019. However, the city’s GDP suffered a 10.6 percent growth setback in 2020, with a loss of around P5.4 billion in 2019.

In 2019, when the pandemic had not yet impacted on the economy, Puerto Princesa City’s economy grew by seven percent, with 5.5 percent coming from services, followed by industry with 1.2 percentage points, and 0.2 percentage points by AFF.

But in 2020, only the AFF sector showed positive growth both in Palawan and Puerto Princesa, registering 0.4 and 0.3 percent growth.

During the past three years, Palawan’s economy has been driven mainly by industry, with a 48.2 percent share, followed by services with a 27.9 percent share, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) with a 23.9 percent share.

The PSA report also indicated that Puerto Princesa has the highest per capita GDP in the MIMAROPA region. It also ranked as the third-highest contributor to MIMAROPA’s GDP and the third-highest contributor in the region for the services sector.

From 2018 to 2020, the economy of the city has been mainly driven by the services sector, with a 75.7 percent share, followed by the industry sector with a 21 percent share, and AFF with a 3.3 percent share.

Around half of the services sector, or 50.6 percent, was shared by transportation and storage, at 18.7 percent, wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles at 18.5 percent, and information and communication, with a 13.4 percent share.

It is followed by other parts of the services sector, which are financial and insurance activities, accommodation, and food services activities, real estate, and ownership dwellings, other services, education, human health and social work activities, professional and business services, and public administration and defense, and compulsory social activities.

In the industry sector share of the city’s GDP, the part of electricity, steam, water, and waste management contributed the highest share of 43.7 percent, followed by construction, manufacturing, and mining, and quarrying.

Ofelia SJ. Aguilar, project evaluation officer III of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), said that the PSA report will help the city identify its priorities.

“We can compare with the national, regional, and provincial GDPs as a benchmark for economic analysis.” Formulate the human development index of the LGU,” she said.

The PSA report also noted that Palawan maintained its role as the major economic driver for the MIMAROPA region. It is also the highest contributor in industry and AFF, the second-highest contributor in services, and the second-highest per capita GDP contributor in MIMAROPA.

Under the industry sector, mining and quarrying shared the highest contribution with 58.9 percent share followed by manufacturing, construction, and electricity, steam, water, and waste management.

Rodriguez urged local government units to consider the report as a planning guide to steer the economy back to health.

“Evidence-based decision making kasi ito, nandiyan talaga ang mga data na galing sa kanila. At least maka-draw sila ng line kung saan direksyon na tayo papunta,” she said.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.