Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has appointed Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. nominated as the new Chairman of the Western Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC-6) to ensure continued economic growth following the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

Treñas emphasized the need for new leadership within RDC-6 due to the separation of Negros Island as the current chairman, Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Benitez, will no longer be part of the Western Visayas Council.

“We must realign our leadership to adapt to the new regional dynamics,” Treñas said.

Treñas recognized the economic contributions of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental to the Western Visayas, noting that their departure would have a substantial impact.

“The loss of Bacolod’s services is a significant economic blow, but I am confident that the region will recover quickly,” he added.

According to Miguel Gallego, a statistical specialist with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Western Visayas, Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have significantly affected the overall inflation rates in the region.

“The establishment of NIR has strengthened the economic potential of the new region, while the Western Visayas will face challenges in maintaining economic stability,” Gallego said.

Recent data from PSA Western Visayas shows that the region recorded an inflation rate of 4.2 percent as of April 2024, the lowest in the province.

Previously, Bacolod City played a crucial role in achieving ‘trillionaire’ status for the Western Visayas, making it the second fastest growing economy in the country.

The average inflation rate for the region from January to June 2024 is 3.2 percent.

Factors contributing to the rise in the inflation rate include a decline in the index for housing, electricity, gas and other fuels, which reached -0.3 percent in the period, compared to -2.2 percent in the previous month.

The transport sector also saw an increase, with inflation at 3.8 percent, followed by clothing and shoes at 3.1 percent, and restaurants and accommodation services at 5.5 percent.

In Western Visayas, the provinces of Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo have experienced rising inflation rates as of May 2024, with Guimaras recording the highest at 7 percent.

Despite these economic shifts, Treñas’ proposed proactive leadership changes aim to stabilize and grow the region’s economy, positioning Western Visayas for a prosperous future.