LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 4 (PNA) -- A top official of the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) in the Bicol region said the economy in the region is the fastest growing among all 18 regions in the country.
Cynthia Perdiz, PSA-Bicol director, said “the (Bicol) region’s economy pulled up with a growth rate of 8.4 percent, the highest attained in terms of gross regional domestic product (GRDP), that has put Bicol on top of all regions.”
She said a PSA report showed that “both industry and service sectors” helped fuel this growth.
Perdiz explained that industry accelerated faster than services but both sectors boosted the region’s economy.
She said the high growth rate was driven by “the industry sector which expanded at a faster rate of 23.7 percent in 2015 from its 5.3 percent growth in 2014.”
PSA data, however, showed that while notable growth was seen in the two sectors, there was drop in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector.
The year 2015 saw the onset of El Nino which affected the agricultural sector’s performance and reduced rice production.
PSA data showed that for a three-year period, from 2012 to 2015, there has been a noticeable drop in poverty incidence.
“For the first semester of 2015, poverty incidence in Bicol dropped to 30.9 percent, from the 34.1 percent in 2012,” said PSA.
Poverty incidence among individuals was estimated at 39 percent in the first half of 2015, down from the 43.3 percent, during the same period in 2012.
While the region is seen as the “fastest growing”
Bicol continues to “endeavor to be delisted from among the poorest regions in the country,” said Perdiz.
Bicol region has a population of 5.7 million, 39 percent or 2.2 million of whom are poor. This means that four out of 10 people in the region are poor.
Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), an economist, said the region’s growth performance was “so impressive” while noting that its indicators were doable.
He lauded the Bicolanos, the people and its private sector, who “must take credit for the significant growth.”
“There was a strong contribution from the planning and its project follow-up and implementation as well as the monitoring vigor of the Bicol-Regional Development Council (RDC),” said Salceda.
He added that there was “dynamic and collaborative” members in the RDC, that included the various local government units and non-government agencies, working in the region.
Salceda has been chairman of the Bicol-RDC for nine years and the Luzon Area Development Committee (RDCOM) for six years.
Perdiz said the high growth rate was driven by the industry sector which expanded at a faster rate of 23.7 percent in 2015 from its 5.3 percent growth in 2014.
She said the region’s growth rate is measured in two levels: GRDP output on current prices and constant prices.
Bicol under the GRDP current prices level has increased by 8.4 percent or P11.9 million from the P154.709 billion of goods and services produced last year--a far cry from the “sluggish” GRDP performance of P142.763 billion output in 2014, PSA data said.
While based on the GRDP at constant prices, including inflation rate, the region has produced P281.2 billion GRDP in 2015 as compared to slow performance in 2014, which recorded only P264.7 billion. It produced only P243.8 billion in 2013.
Asked how it evaluates Bicol region’s performance, the National Economic and Development (NEDA) said the region’s growth rate of 8.4 percent last year almost doubled the growth of 4.3 percent in 2014 and exceeded the target of 6.7 percent set in the “Regional Development Plan.”
“The expansion rate was spurred by public and private construction projects which grew to 39.7 percent last year from 1.9 percent growth rate in 2014,” said Agnes Espinas, NEDA regional director.
Espinas, in an emailed report, said “infrastructure projects accelerated government spending and other economic and social services.”
She cited the P1.69 billion worth of investments that was poured into infrastructure that repaired and widened 52 kilometers of roads and 846 linear meters of bridges along the Maharlika Highway, dubbed as the Asian Highway 26.
NEDA-Bicol cited the P1-billion Legazpi City Urban Drainage Project (LCUDIP) as another milestone project pursued in the Bicol region. Espinas said LCUDIP is a “major flood mitigating structure of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).” The project, which is located in Legazpi City, involved the construction of a seawall with joggers and vehicle lane; dike along the Ruran, Sagumayon and Macabalo tributaries; Cabangan bridge; and the three flood control pumping stations in Barangays San Roque, Victory village and Dap-dap.
NEDA-Bicol said under the “Bottom up Budgeting” or BUB program it spent P333 million for 239 construction projects.
The other infrastructure projects implemented, said NEDA, included the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City, “Philippine Rural Development Program” projects in Camarines Norte, and the construction of 27 road projects worth P1.48 billion under the Department of Tourism-DPWH convergence program.
Aside from these, NEDA noted that for social and education infrastructure projects in Bicol, there was the construction of 2,900 classrooms for elementary and secondary public schools region-wide; 221 multipurpose buildings; 217 flood/river control structures; and the 215 school buildings under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s KALAHI-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahairapan Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (Kalahi-Cidss).
NEDA added that under the Core shelter Assistance Program of the DSWD, completed were 12,893 housing units by shelter agencies and 7,843 core shelter units.
Espinas noted that the other infrastructure projects implemented last year were the Catanduanes Circumferential Road; Albay-Camarines Sur diversion road; Pio Duran-Donsol, Guicadale platform road networks; and the Bicol International Airport projects which received P1.55 billion for airside construction.
Mining and quarrying bounced back to 8.5 percent points in 2015 from a negative growth of 19.1 percent in 2014.
The rebound was attributed to the Masbate Gold Project in Aroroy, Masbate, where a total sales value of P8.2 billion was recorded for 4,899 kilograms of gold and P87 million from 3,78 kilograms of silver
These were produced by Filminera Resources Corp. and the Phil. Gold Processing and Refining Corp.
NEDA said the government also approved last year 28 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements or MPSAs that produced mineral commodities, ranging from limestone, perlite, clay, gypsum, copper, zinc, iron, chromite, silver and gold.
The PSA report cited by Perdiz showed that the growth in the service sector was fueled by the increase in tourist arrivals by 21.53 percent from 3.72 million in 2014 to 4.52 million in 2015.
This included around 868,000 foreign tourists and 3.65 million domestic tourists.
The higher tourist arrivals has led to expansion as manifested by the building of additional malls, convention centers, hotel and restaurants, and additional facilities for transportation, storage and communication.
The growth in transportation, storage and communication was due to the opening of car sales centers, warehousing, business processing outsourcing or BPOs and the opening of telecommunication companies.
“Public and private investments that contributed to the growth of the region’s economy translated into an increase in employment of about 78,000,” said the PSA report.
“While significant growth was recorded in the industry and service sectors, the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector exhibited a drop,” by 2.3 percent points in 2015, due to the 9.4 percent reduction in the fishing industry.
The year 2015 saw the onset of El Nino which affected the agricultural sector performance thus reducing rice production, from 3.82 to 3.69 MT per hectare, and corn from 2.51 to 2.37 MT per hectare, showed PSA data. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD